The Preseason USA Today’s Coaches Poll came out on Monday with the Vols absent from the inaugural rankings.
Six Southeastern Conference teams inhabited the poll while four Tennessee opponents landed in the inaugural rankings.
Alabama toped the poll and was followed by SEC members No. 3 Georgia, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 23 Arkansas and No. 24 Ole Miss.
Pittsburgh — the Vols week two opponent — landed at No. 16 in the preseason rankings after winning the ACC and losing to Michigan State in the Peach Bowl.
The Panthers lost stars Kenny Pickett and Jordan Addison from last season’s team but return a number of top defenders.
Tennessee conference opponents LSU and Florida both missed the preseason top 25.
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The SEC’s six teams in the rankings are the most of any conference followed by the ACC (five), Big 10 (four), Big 12 (four) and the Pac 12 (three).
While Tennessee wasn’t in the top 25, they were third in the “others receiving votes” category making the Vols No. 28 in the preseason rankings.
Tennessee has been a fringe top 25 team in most preseason predictions. The Vols overachieved in Josh Heupel’s first season as head coach, going 7-5 in the regular season before falling to Purdue in the Music City Bowl.
Quarterback Hendon Hooker’s and 1,000 yard receiver Cedric Tillman’s return to Knoxville gives the Vols one of the top offenses in the SEC entering the season.