Vols in middle of pack of Cubelic’s preseason SEC power rankings

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    (Photo via Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics)

    Few cover SEC football as well as SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic. After watching hours of film on each team in the conference over the summer, Cubelic released his preseason SEC power rankings on Saturday.

    Cubelic listed Tennessee at No. 8 in his preseason rankings. The Vols were one spot behind Auburn, and one spot ahead of Mississippi State. Tennessee is the fourth-highest ranked SEC East team, as Florida (No. 2), Georgia (No. 3) and Kentucky (No. 5) were all ahead of the Vols. South Carolina (No. 11), Missouri (No. 12) and Vanderbilt (No. 14) were the division opponents ranked behind Tennessee.

    The top-half of the league includes the usual suspects. Alabama, the Gators, the Bulldogs and defending national champion LSU round out the top four. But Cubelic drew some attention by putting Kentucky at No. 5, one spot ahead of Texas A&M, who many believe will take a leap in Jimbo Fisher’s third season in College Station.

    Kentucky returns one of the top offensive lines in the league, as well as redshirt senior quarterback Terry Wilson who missed most of last season due to injury. Wilson helped lead Kentucky to a 10-win season in 2018.

    Tennessee is expected to take a step forward in Jeremy Pruitt’s third season at the helm. Despite starting last season 1-4, Pruitt led the Vols to an 8-5 finish, including a Gator Bowl win over Indiana. It was the Vols’ first bowl win since 2016.

    In all, Tennessee will face four of Cubelic’s top five SEC teams in 2020. To take it a step further, the Vols will face six of Cubelic’s top seven teams. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Auburn are all on the docket for the Vols following the SEC’s release of the 2020 10-game conference-only schedule on Aug. 7.

    While we know Tennessee’s 10 opponents for the upcoming season, the detailed schedule that includes dates and kickoff times has not yet been released. It is scheduled to be released at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network Monday night. Tennessee’s week one opponent will be announced on the Paul Finebaum show at 3 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.