Paul Finebaum appears a little bullish on Tennessee this season.

The long-time radio host and current ESPN/SEC Network pundit joined the “McElroy and Cubelic In The Morning” on WJOX out of Birmingham, Alabama and discussed the upcoming Volunteers season.

“I think a lot depends early on the Pittsburgh game,” Finebaum said. “I think if they can get past that, they have a chance to really make some noise.”

Tennessee lost 41-34 to Pittsburgh at Neyland Stadium last season. The Volunteers will play the Panthers on Sept. 10 at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh. The game is scheduled for a national broadcast on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Finebaum spoke complimentary of Volunteers head coach Josh Heupel and believes that Tennessee might finally have the right leadership from top down for success on the football field.

“Tennessee always looks like the car that should’ve one the Talladega 500,” Finebaum added. “But gets knocked out in the first lap because the wheel fell off.”

The radio host also dismissed the potential effects of the recent NCAA notice of violations recently served to Tennessee. Finebaum said the school has handled the violations, which happened under former coach Jeremy Pruitt, well with self-imposed penalties.

As for the football season, Finebaum expects an improved record on the field.

“Is it 8 or 9 wins something in there is realistic,” Finebaum said. “I say that because I think you have to start the season with two losses — that’s Alabama and Georgia. It’s really how they navigate those other tweener games is whether they get to 8 or 9 or get stuck in the 7 to 8 range.”

Tennessee went 7-6 in its first year under Heupel. The Volunteers won 3 of their final 4 regular-season games to get bowl eligible and lost 48-45 to Purdue in the Music City Bowl.

Read More

Sports betting in Tennessee officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.