It is installment number six of wild blind dart-throwing predictions. Today, we move to the land of pumpkin orange. Not that orange you can sit with.
WEEK 8, OCT 21: TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Coach: Josh Heupel, age 45 (18–8, SEC 10–6 in two season at UT; 46–16 overall)
2022 record: 11–2 (6-2 in SEC, 2nd in the East Division, Orange Bowl Win)
CB969 2022 Prediction: 8-4; “UT has some very winnable games at the beginning and end of their schedule. Back-to-back Saturdays of LSU and Alabama followed by Kentucky and Georgia will define their season....”
Looking back: The Vols had a dream season going. Wins over Pitt, Florida, LSU, Kentucky, and arch-nemesis Alabama took them to 8-0 with a No. 1 ranking. Then UGA happened. The next week, UT ran up the score on Mizzou, but then South Carolina of all teams hung 63 on them. The Vols wrapped the season with a romp of Vandy and a bowl win over Clempson.
Returning starters: 6 on offense, 5 on defense, no kickers
Key losses: OC Alex Golesh (new head coach of USF), OT Darnell Wright (Round 1, Bears), QB Hendon Hooker (Round 3, Lions), WR Jalin Hyatt (Round 3, Giants), WR Cedric Tillman (Round 3, Browns), EDGE Byron Young (Round 3, Rams), LB Jeremy Banks, TE Princeton Fant, G Jerome Carvin, P Paxton Brooks, S Trevon Flowers, DL Da’Jon Terry (transfer to Oklahoma), DE LaTrell Bumphus
Top returnees: QB Joe Milton, WR Bru McCoy, C Cooper Mays, RB Jabari Small, RB Jaylen Wright, LB Aaron Beasley, S Jaylen McCollough, OL Javontez Spraggins
Top newcomers: New OC - a guy named Joey Halzle (promoted assistant), OT John Campbell (transfer from Miami-FL), LB Keenan Pili (BYU), PK Charles Campbell (Indiana), 5-star QB Nico Iamaleava (Fr.) waiting if Milton fails.
Name you need to know: WR Bru McCoy was a 5-star recruit way back in 2019. He committed to Southern Cal but flipped to Texas. After a spring in Austin, he transferred to Southern Cal. After two seasons in So Cal, he transferred to Tennessee. Now settled in as a 5th year senior, he is expected to lead the Vols receiving corps.
Strengths: Running backs... Veteran defensive line... Dee Williams as punt returner... Fan support (for now)...
Weaknesses: Rebuilding an offense without Hooker, Hyatt, Tillman, and Golesh... defense took a step forward last year. However, more improvement is needed, especially the secondary.... Breaking in new kickers... A tough TAMU, @Bama, @UK three week stretch...
Outlook: The Vols have another sixth year 23-year old quarterback in Joe Milton. He has been getting hyped for half a decade but has never lived up to his billing. If he cannot make this motor go, five-star freshman Nico Iamaleava will be ready to step in. The real issue for UT is that atrocious defense that ranked No. 127 in pass defense (289.5 yards allowed per game) last season.
Win Total Odds*
Over 9.5 +155 (bet $100 to win $155)
Under 9.5 -155 (bet $155 to win $100)
Sat, Sep 2 vs Virginia (Nashville, TN) - W - Lame scheduling.
Sat, Sep 9 vs Austin Peay - W
Sat, Sep 16 @ Florida - W
Sat, Sep 23 vs UTSA - W - This one will be tougher than the UVa game.
Sat, Sep 30 vs South Carolina - W
Sat, Oct 14 vs Texas A&M - W - home field advantage.
Sat, Oct 21 @ Alabama - L - starting a new streak.
Sat, Oct 28 @ Kentucky - L - Am I crazy to make this pick? A letdown after Bama, 2nd straight road game, against UK QB Devin Leary. It seems on brand.
Sat, Nov 4 vs UConn - W
Sat, Nov 11 @ Missouri - W
Sat, Nov 18 vs Georgia - L
Sat, Nov 25 vs Vanderbilt - W
Nine wins sounds about right for this favorable schedule. They probably lose one (or more?) of @Fla, @UK, or @Mizz.
Regular season wins for Tennessee in 2023:
This poll is closed
10 or more - last year was no fluke.
9 - good not great
6 or less - last year was a mirage.
2023 ALABAMA SCHEDULE PREVIEWS:
Sat, Sep 2 vs Middle Tennessee
Sat, Sep 9 vs Texas
Sat, Sep 16 @ South Florida
Sat, Sep 23 vs Ole Miss
Sat, Sep 30 @ Mississippi State
Sat, Oct 7 @ Texas A&M
Sat, Oct 14 vs Arkansas
Sat, Oct 21 vs Tennessee
Sat, Oct 28 off week
Sat, Nov 4 vs LSU
Sat, Nov 11 @ Kentucky
Sat, Nov 18 vs Chattanooga
Sat, Nov 25 @ Auburn