If ESPN’s Football Power Index is any indication, Tennessee should be right in the thick of the race for a trip to Atlanta to play for the SEC championship in December.
The network’s popular FPI ranking system received an update on Wednesday. The Volunteers received a favorable grade, checking in as the No. 19 team in the country in spite of significant personnel losses on both sides of the ball coming out of a nine-win 2016 season. Tennessee’s projected regular-season record is 7.9-4.3 and the Vols are given a 3.7 percent chance of winning the conference. That win total is right in line with what is projected for Georgia (8.4) and Florida (7.9), meaning the SEC East should be a pretty close battle.
For those who are not familiar, ESPN explains the process of putting the Football Power Index together:
The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily.
The projected results for the Vols go a little deeper than the No. 19 ranking in college football and roughly eight wins. ESPN explains how its calculations arrived at that conclusion, in part, by also revealing its projected results for each game on the Tennessee schedule.
|DATE||OPPONENT||ESPN’s PROJECTED RESULT|
|Sept. 4||vs. Georgia Tech||68.5% chance TEN wins|
|Sept. 9||vs. Indiana State||98.9% chance TEN wins|
|Sept. 16||at Florida||62.1% chance FLA wins|
|Sept. 23||vs. UMass||97.4% chance TEN wins|
|Sept. 30||vs. Georgia||51.3% chance TEN wins|
|Oct. 14||vs. South Carolina||75.7% chance TEN wins|
|Oct. 21||at Alabama||86.5% chance ALA wins|
|Oct. 28||at Kentucky||60.0% chance TEN wins|
|Nov. 4||vs. Southern Miss.||96.1% chance TEN wins|
|Nov. 11||at Missouri||64.3% chance TEN wins|
|Nov. 18||vs. LSU||59.5% chance LSU wins|
|Nov. 25||vs. Vanderbilt||81.1% chance TEN wins|
Some takeaways from these numbers:
- Once again, the SEC West is going to be a potential sore spot for the Vols. After dropping both games to the division last season, Tennessee is projected to lose to both Alabama and LSU.
- The Florida streak may have ended at Neyland Stadium last season, but FPI gives the Gators a 62.1 percent chance of having the Vols’ number once again.
- The Georgia game, which ended on a dramatic Hail Mary last season, is considered an absolute toss up once again. Given that it could tip the scales in the SEC East, it’s one to circle on the calendar for sure.
- South Carolina and Vanderbilt may have beaten the Vols last season, but the ESPN FPI numbers say those aren’t likely to be games the Vols lose again in 2017.