Tennessee has big expectations for the 2017 season. The team feels like it will be able to take a big step up and compete not only for the SEC championship, but also the National Championship this year. The Volunteers have the talent and the desire.
Now they just have to get through the schedule.
SEC schedules are never easy — Tennessee faces Texas A&M and Alabama in crossover games. But if the team can get through its October gauntlet, there is the chance to build a ton of momentum and be clear through November, at least according to ESPN Stats and Information.
ESPN Insider says Tennessee has the most lopsided schedule in the SEC. Its November schedule of Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt — the only road game — certainly looks a lot softer and a lot more manageable than the typical SEC closing kick.
“If Tennessee can make it through a difficult October, then November sets up favorably,” Sharon Katz of ESPN writes. “ESPN’s FPI projects that the Vols have about a 75 percent chance to win all three games, so if they build a lead in the SEC East standings prior to November, they could be tough to catch. In terms of the College Football Playoff race, Tennessee is projected to play the easiest schedule of any Power 5 team in the month of November, which could work for and against the Vols in their quest for the playoff.”
That October run will be very tricky for the Volunteers.
Tennessee hosts Florida and travels to Georgia in back-to-back weeks. The Volunteers then get the Aggies on the road before hosting the Crimson Tide. These four games could derail that championship dream very quickly. These are the games Tennessee has struggled to win consistently in recent years, and it’s held the program back.
If the Volunteers want to reap the rewards of this lopsided November, they first will have to take care of business in October.