What’s not to love about supreme optimism?

It’s the best time of the year for college football fans, especially those favoring the SEC. Dreams of a national championship aren’t yet crushed and homers abound can all take a stab at guessing wins and losses on their respective team’s schedule.

‘Best Case Scenario’ Series


2013 record: 5-7, 2-6
2014 best case: 8-4, 5-3
Closer look: A six-week stretch against five Top 11 teams crippled the Vols’ chances last fall, leading to Tennessee’s fourth consecutive losing season. The brutal SEC slate’s not getting any easier for the league’s youngest team which is faced with the task of replacing every starter in the trenches. Not only will Tennessee travel to Ole Miss, South Carolina and Georgia, but the Vols’ first road trip is to Oklahoma — a preseason Top 5. Navigating through one of the nation’s toughest schedules will be arduous, but a three-game winning streak to end the season is a strong possibility.
Silver lining: Prior to facing Alabama at Neyland Stadium on Oct. 25, Tennessee could have as many as five victories if it can beat Ole Miss and split games against Florida and Georgia. Marlin Lane and Jalen Hurd create quite the 1-2 punch in the backfield, but the Vols’ quarterback play will determine this season’s ceiling. Eight wins seems extremely high for a group this inexperienced, but the talent’s there to reach that feat.