Tennessee Football: The Season Projections Collection

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    Tennessee Football Season

    The college football season is just around the corner, which means many publications have started to release their official predictions for the upcoming season. The Tennessee Volunteers will be the first team to play this season from the SEC when they take on Bowling Green this Thursday night in Knoxville. But as the game draws closer, many experts have tried to get a good understanding of what this Tennessee team may look like in 2021.

    After all, in the off-season, Tennessee did undergo a change in almost every level of the athletic department. Danny White came in as Tennessee’s Athletic Director, and Josh Heupel took over as the Vols’ head coach. Not to mention, Tennessee saw the most players enter the transfer portal among all Division-I teams. So, with the overhaul to the program, it’s tough to say exactly what Tennessee will look like on Thursday or even the season as a whole.

    According to the updated 2021 SP+ rankings, Tennessee is projected at 6.9 wins for the 2021 season. In addition, that would be a projection of 3.5 wins in the SEC. Going by the same rankings, Tennessee also has a 86% chance to win at least six games.

    The SP+ rankings are an “opponent- and tempo-adjusted look at the most sustainable and predictive aspects of college football.”

    “The strongest odds that SP+ has to offer are picking Tennessee over 6 and LSU under 8.5,” said ESPN writer Bill Connelly. “Both projections strongly buck conventional wisdom. Tennessee had a chaotic coaching search (in light of a potential NCAA investigation) and throttled the transfer portal with guys coming in and out.”

    Tennessee Football fall camp

    Photo by Rocky Top Insider.

    Compared to the rest of the college football landscape, Tennessee is near the bottom in its returning production from 2020. Tennessee currently projects to return 60 percent of its production, which is good for No. 117 out of 129 teams in college football. More specifically, the Vols bring back 57 percent of their offensive output and 63 percent from the defense.

    A team of experts from CBS Sports recently released their final projections for the SEC East in 2021. Out of the seven CBS analysts who participated, no one picked Tennessee to finish higher than fifth place in the SEC East.

    Five of the experts locked in the Vols to finish fifth, while the other two dropped them to sixth. In addition, all seven analysts, except for one, did have either South Carolina or Tennessee in the number five and six slots. So, there was at least consensus in which teams would be battling it out on that tier for the most part.

    Georgia received all seven first-place projections. Meanwhile, Florida took in all the second-place votes. Each expert listed Kentucky and Missouri in their next two spots in some order, with four choosing the Cats over the Tigers for the third-place finish. Vanderbilt projects to finish last by six of the seven CBS experts.

    247 Sports’ Brad Crawford projects Tennessee to finish 6-6 overall in 2021, with two wins and six losses in SEC play. Meanwhile, USA Today Sports projects Tennessee to wind up fifth in the SEC East, behind Georgia, Florida, Missouri, and Kentucky.

    Tennessee will kick off the 2021 season at home against Bowling Green on Thursday, Sept. 2. Stay tuned to Rocky Top Insider for more Tennessee football fall camp coverage.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.