I think TCU's in. Even if they get blown out this week, they ran the table in the regular season and already beat the team they're playing. It's hard to beat the same team twice in a year. Besides, if TCU gets blown out (in an extra game), they'll be going against OSU (blown out at home), TN (blown out and has 2 losses) and Bama (2 losses including one to the aforementioned TN). TCU's resume has gotten stronger these past several weeks as well. I think the only game that could honestly affect the playoff pool this weekend is USC-Utah.
I agree with SonoftheSouth. It's not fair, per se, but having Bryce Young v. not having Hooker could definitely work in Bama's favor at this point. I'm hoping UGA, Mich, TCU and USC take care of business this week and close out strong! OSU, TN and Bama do not deserve to be in this year's CFP, in my opinion.
I'm not defending TN's loss to SC, but Bama could've easily folded against TN when they were down 28-10 and had a similar result as the TN-SC game. College football is a game of continuous variables and momentum shifts, which is what makes it so exciting. TN got taken to the woodshed by SC, a team it couldn't stop defensively (without its best defensive player). It gave up and absurd 63 points. Bama struggled to stop TN (with its best defensive player) and gave up an absurd 52 points. The only difference, all things considered, is that when Bama (who couldn't stop UT all night) was down by 18, Bryce Young willed his team back into contention and nearly won Bama the game. Had your backup QB (who struggled against A&M) had to take over, would Bama have come back? TN (who couldn't stop SC all night) was down 18, 49-31...and its very capable QB, Hooker, got hurt AND fumbled on the next drive. Our backup QB (who struggled in 2021), couldn't muster a comeback. I'm not saying TN would've beaten SC regardless, but it very easily could've ended up a 56-49 type game had Hooker stayed healthy...and Bama's loss to UT could have very easily become a blowout had Young reinjured himself. My point is, both Bama and TN were almost identical this year. Both were pretty decent against most teams and are deserving of NY6 bowls, but both laid some eggs on the road when it mattered most and shouldn't be considered for the CFP this year.
I agree with you partially, etcjoe. LSU lost two games early (FSU and UT blowout) before they started playing well under Kelly, so I think fans were optimistically-cautious once they started playing well against Florida and especially Bama. Tennessee got a bit lucky against Pitt and maybe Florida, but otherwise started off hot (especially against LSU). After the Bama win, I think there was a combo of 15-year frustration for faithful Vol fans + overhype by new bandwagon fans (who disappeared after the SC debacle, I hope!). I don't think most reasonable fans thought UT would win it all (especially after getting manhandled by UGA), but there was definite reason for playoff optimism prior to the SC game. Both TN and LSU have a ways to go to keep building upon this year's success in years to come (especially as UGA and Bama likley reload and come back strong next year), but I agree, both teams should be proud of what they accomplished this year and LSU fans did seem to carry that torch better than UT fans as a whole.
I had to do a double-take on that, too, 98. I didn’t think anyone besides Griffin had won multiple Heismans.
I hope Milton’s serviceable this year and next, because Nico definitely looks like he needs to put on some weight to compete weekly in the SEC. And I totally agree about the unexpected with Milton, TideFan. I went back and watched a highlight reel of Milton at Michigan the other day; the reel itself looks fine (like one could of him at UT), but many of the plays showcased showed some incredibly-athletic catches by receivers…on plays featuring shouldn’t have required such athleticism for a completion to be made. I have a feeling many nails will be bitten while Milton plays QB1 for Tennessee.
Well, you got the “blowout” part right, Long Beach Mike…just picked the wrong team haha!
Very true. I’m dreading next week. If Vandy stops the run, I fear it’s gonna’ be all quick outs, deep balls and scrambles. We COULD win with that formula, but I wouldn’t feel confident with that game plan.
I agree, LSUMC, and I always like your posts. At this point, LSU has already had an awesome season and is playing with house money v. expectations. I hope y’all are able to stay strong and competitive (unlike my Vols last night), but unlike Heupel, Kelly has been there before and definitely has LSU’s players locked in. It’s been fun to watch both LSU and TN improve quicker than expected this year!
I had the same thought. I think LSU takes care of business with so much on the line, but this sport tends to bring out chaos in rivalry matchups on the road with one team having nothing to lose (again, see TN @ SC). I hope LSU wins and sets up a better viewing stage for the SECCG, but Jimbo’s not gonna’ wanna’ lose all of his players to the transfer portal, so if he’s smart, he’ll play aggressively. At that point, catch some breaks and anything goes. I think the biggest difference between Jimbo and Beamer (that will work in LSU’s favor) is that players and fans actually like Beamer and are rallying behind him. That does not seem to be the case for A&M.
I agree about TCU. I doubt they get in if they don’t run the table (ie, possible Kansas State loss in the Big-12 championship game), but right now, they’re completely deserving. They’ve won every game close, but they’ve won, and they’ve played well/tough on the road…against an increasingly tougher schedule. Not many Big-12 teams are still ranked, but they were when they played TCU.
Agreed JTF. I think the top 4 stays the same, for now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if USC jumps LSU this week at 5. Unfortunately, I think my Vols’ losss…in THAT fashion, won’t bode well for the Bayou Tigers. As bad as UT’s loss was to SC, and it was bad, LSU still lost worst to that same UT team at home. Its key victories against Bama and Ole Miss look good but not great, as those teams don’t look fantastic this season, and USC’s schedule will keep getting stronger. Clemson’s too. It’s gonna’ be an interesting end to the season, for sure!
I agree with you Candyland. The only people who seem to care about the UT score against Mizzouri are Mizzou and UGA fans, for some reason. TN got hot last week and scored a lot of points (the last two drives with backups in that may now be starters against Vandy given the Hooker injury. A win against Vandy is not guaranteed by any means at this point. TN tried to stop scoring against Florida and nearly lost the game because the team is not built to sustain drives, only to score quickly or bust. Tonight, they busted. Offensively to an extent and definitely on defense. SC got hot and played perhaps their best game in program history. Who cares that they scored 60+ on TN. Let them have their fun, vent their frustrations from earlier losses this season, and celebrate tonight. SC earned it in every facet of the game and didn’t feel like they were running it up at all. Our D may not have stopped SC had they kneeled it on us tonight…just like Mizzou couldn’t stop TN last week.
Agreed, Bear. Well put, on all fronts. On D, as bad as our secondary has been all year, I’ve been equally impressed with Tim Banks’ aggressive play calling…kept us in many games or helped us put away many games earlier in the season against comparable competition to our player talent level (discrediting UGA and Bama, who have better athletes than us right now). I don’t know what happened tonight, but I have a feeling the Omari Thomas and Jeremy Banks absences played a big part of it. Regardless, we got flat-out smoked and outplayed/out coached all-around tonight, but I’m still proud of the Vols’ season YTD. Hopefully we can use tonight as a learning opportunity to mitigate future heartache and remain consistently competitive moving forward.
*next couple of years. Dang autocorrect!
I agree with all of this VFL_88. SC played great, and UT got destroyed tonight. But, after the last 15 years, I still am extremely proud of our Vols and wouldn’t trade this season for anything! Hopefully we’ll build off of this season, get some more depth/experience on D, and bounce back into the expanded playoff mix consistently within the next year ogre years.
I agree with each of you. I totally support the idea of letting Milton operate the full offense for a few drives late in games because if Hooker goes down, Milton needs confidence to carry the team. That said, my biggest concern with TN’s offense when Milton is QB (including all of this year and dating back to early last year) is that Milton doesn’t seem to have the pocket awareness or accuracy Hooker does. He either bails and runs too early, waits for receivers to get completely open, or chunks it deep. In Heupel’s offense, someone always goes deep, but Hooker sets those deep balls up by completing tight slants and other short passes all day. Milton often foregoes or missed those short passes and just automatically throws deep. That process won’t work predictably once/if he’s the starter next year. So, I don’t blame Heupel for the deep ball (that was Milton’s decision) or the ensuing rushing TD from the 2…but I think coach shouldn’t have called a timeout after the deep ball was thrown.
17Tide, etcjoe, and AFan, I totally agree. Sorry for the late response, by the way...I'm new on this site and assumed I'd get a notification if someone responded to my post haha! I agree Bama is more talented than TN this year in terms of overall personnel. That's all on recruiting. I hope UT can restock soon like Bama and UGA are doing each year, but they've still got a ways to go. It's funny, we made the same mistakes at UGA Saturday y'all made at Neyland...and we never even sniffed striking distance of a win. So props to Bama for almost pulling it out a few weeks ago despite the errors it made that night. This year has definitely shown how much of an impact home-field advantage can have at the big-time stadiums (LSU, UT, UGA, Bama, A&M, Florida). It's part of what makes college football the best sport in the world!
KBP, I'm not throwing shade, but it's tough to set arbitrary points top teams should or shouldn't score or allow (considering who could be better beneath them). Last year, UGA had the #1 defense heading into the SEC championship game -- it had only given up 30 points in the entire month of November -- and it got dismantled 41-24 by Bama on a neutral field. Obviously, UGA was still a playoff-caliber team based on the rest of its resume and domination last year, and it avenged itself in the title game. I'm not saying TN will/should make the playoff or will avenge itself this year if it does, but based on the schedules and performance each team has played thus far YTD, it would be hard to argue TN is not the best 1-loss team, which would yield a #5 ranking worst case.
Haha! Very true, Kirkm1976. As a Vols fan, yes, making it to the playoff, even if we get skunked, would a) be a huge deal after the past 15 years we've had and b) absolutely be better than not making the playoff...especially from a recruiting perspective. Maybe I'm wrong, but I bet if you asked Michigan fans who made the playoff but lost to Georgia last year and UCF fans of the undefeated team that didn't make the playoff in 2017 but beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl...the more bitter of the two fanbases would DEFINITELY be UCF.
True, but that LSU win at Death Valley is gaining luster every week, so win (+ Bama) would likely still look stronger than Oregon's resume at this point. By season's end, that could easily change, as Oregon still has most of its tough matchups ahead of it for the remainder of the year (discounting the UGA game for both teams...as UGA obviously handled both easily). If UGA, OSU/Mich and TCU all go undefeated, and Oregon runs the table, I think Oregon will get the nod over Tennessee by season's end, but this week, I would still claim Tennessee looks like the best 1-loss team, to date.
I agree with Topsail. I see UT’s best chance of making the CFP is UGA winning out (including a a strong win against the West winner in the SECCG, coupled with a Clemson loss and either TCU loss or blowout Mich/OSU loss. What could hurt the Vols is that I don’t see the CFP committee ranking them 4 and UGA 1, but I also think it’s easier to see TN moving back to 5 rather than up to 3 to avoid a semi-final rematch. It’ll be interesting but definitely a harder road to the CFP for TN now without some help. On a different note, great game today, Dawgs. Y’all dominated both sides of the line from start to finish, absolutely shut down Hooker and our receivers, and made huge plays offensively when needed. I hope TN can continue to strengthen its team and make this game more competitive in years to come!
Let’s set the record straight on Tennessee’s defense and why Georgia could actually struggle against it
Good assessment. I agree everything you stated with two caveats on the Florida & Bama games. Both Richardson and Bryce Young would've torched our D with their legs last year. Also, UT's offense last year was quick and good against most teams, but when it got out of its quick rhythm (ie Ole Miss), it couldn't sustain drives. I mention those caveats for two reasons this year. First, most importantly, UT's D hasn't let mobile quarterbacks beat them with their legs. If they beat us with their arms, so be it, but we're mostly stopping the run and containing mobile QBs, which is massive improvement from a year ago. Secondly, because of the offense's incredible efficiency, I do think our defense has even more confidence and has thus been enabled to be more aggressive, create more turnovers, etc. That aggressive style doesn't always work, but it's let our D create more disruption in the backfield/near the line of scrimmage, before 40-50 yard plays can develop. So, the ONLY way the D has been weak is by forcing mobile QBs to the games of their lives. So far, that's worked in Tennessee's favor early, while our D seemingly grows stronger each week. UGA presents new obstacles for our D with their tight ends and all-around stud athletes across the field, but I'm grateful TN is playing them later in the year than earlier, because I do feel the defense is improving each week. Should be a great game Saturday, and I'm hoping for a similar result to the Florida game!
I’m not sure everybody saw that Bama was the better team…unless they tuned in late. As a Vols fan, I don’t want to play Bama again if it can be avoided and LSU or Ole Miss can eliminate them from SECCG and playoff contention, but I also saw Tennessee as the better team against Bama throughout. When it was 28-10 UT early, I think the Vols were 1-2 drives away from knocking the wind out’ve Bama. Bryce Young willed his team back offensively and had an incredible game, but UT also shot itself in the foot offensively with a couple missed opportunities before halftime, and a questionable 4th down call after the half, all of which swayed substantial momentum towards the Tide. UT also gifted Bama a free fumble for 6 on their own 10-yard line, which is more or less a wash because of the botched punt on Bama’s end earlier in the game. Pass interference calls hurt both teams late, but I’d argue the PI call against TN in the end zone that set up a Bama TD seemed worse than the PI call against Bama that negated an apparent interception. By that point in the game, sure, the Vols lucked out that Bama missed its field goal late and UT (barely) made its kick, but I wouldn’t say Bama was the better team. That has nothing to do with how Tennessee will match up against UGA Saturday, but after seeing how we played against LSU and Kentucky, and how UGA played against Oregon, SC and the early against Florida, I don’t see UT-UGA being a blowout in either direction right now.
MattTide, I’m a Vols fan; my wife’s a Bama fan. I’m not sure we win Saturday but think we’ll keep it close. IF we get the W Saturday and y’all win out and happen to beat us in Atlanta, we’d both make the playoffs. I told my wife the thought of potentially playing a rubber match against Bama for the THIRD time in a year for a national title both terrifies and excites me to no end. There’s a lot of football left to be played this year, but November and hopefully beyond should be intriguing, for sure!
With Bryce Young playing and healthy, I think y’all would’ve beaten A&M 45-20.
Bama didn’t have Bryce Young against A&M…I think that made the world of difference. I’m a Tennessee fan, and I think we could struggle tremendously if Hooker goes down this year.