As a rational Tennessee fan, Coach Derek Dooley’s first season is going to be a struggle and for me the only thing I’m really looking for is that the Volunteers be competitive into the 2ND half in the majority of their games. As for the 2010 season for the past few months I’ve been thinking that the Vols will have a 4 to 6 win season and after really thinking about things this is how I see the season going:
09-04 vs. Tennessee-Martin W
09-11 vs. Oregon L (possible upset)
09-18 vs. Florida L (possible upset)
09-25 vs. UAB W
10-02 at LSU L
10-09 at Georgia L
10-23 vs. Alabama L
10-30 at South Carolina L (toss-up)
11-06 at Memphis W
11-13 vs. Mississippi W (toss-up)
11-20 at Vanderbilt W
11-27 vs. Kentucky W (toss-up)
Basically I think 6-6 seems a reasonable prediction for the Volunteers this year, but I’ve identified five games that could make this season could turn out very differently.
Losses with potential Upset possibilities: vs. Oregon and vs. Florida
---Basically this season can be made against the Ducks or Gators when the Vols get them at home. Oregon is a West Coast team traveling east and even though the time difference is somewhat negated with the 7pm start, but as has been seen in the NFL the past few years when West Coast teams travel east they haven’t faired well. As for Florida, unlike previous years, as the first conference game of the year and facing a fierce division rival and the Vols could come up with a big game especially with the Gators still getting use to their new quarterback. I don’t expect the Vols to win either but this will be their best shot to literally make this season and being too early in the season I think they have a real shot.
Toss-up Loss that can be a Win: at South Carolina
---Considering that the Vols will be visiting the Gamecocks, I don’t expect the Vols to win the game but the Gamecock’s recent history of a late season swoon makes me think that the Vols have a shot in this game. And if the Vols win this game, they’ll have a unlikely shot at a winning season.
Toss-up Wins that can be Losses: vs. Mississippi and vs. Kentucky
---The game against the Rebels was originally a “Toss-Up Loss that can be a Win” before the NCAA denied Masoli’s petition to join Ole Miss. Considering Masoli’s talent, he would have helped any team he had joined and without him the potential of the Ole Miss offense makes a Vols victory very probable, however anything can happen and that’s why this is a toss-up. The season finale against Kentucky, I believe the Vols will be victorious but something about this game makes me feel uneasy and that’s why this is a “Win that be a Loss.”
As I said at the beginning for months I’ve believed the Vols will have between 4 and 6 wins. Realistically the Vols should go 6-6, but if things happen differently against the opponents I’ve highlighted they could be anywhere from 4-8 to an improbable 7-5. This going to be a learning year for a young Vols team and with home games against some tough opponents will make it a tad easier. But games aren’t played on paper but on the field, so on November 28 we’ll see how good I did at predicting.