Tennessee football expectations are now sky high after their 38-28 win over the Florida Gators last Saturday. Just how far can the Volunteers go in 2016?
It was the gorilla on the back, the elephant in the room, and the last major hurdle for a program starved for a championship. Tennessee football fans refused to think of anything they could accomplish this year before first putting away the Florida Gators.
All we heard about throughout the offseason was this four-game stretch that the Vols are currently in the midst of. But in reality, it was all about the first game of the stretch.
If Tennessee could end their frustrating streak to Florida and silence the talk that Florida owns them, they could then start thinking about bigger things.
Well, they finally exercised that demon. They are pretty much assured an undefeated non-conference schedule this year given that Tennessee Tech is the only team left.
And while Virginia Tech continues to look more and more like an impressive victory, the Vols are coming out of September undefeated for the first time since 2004. They are 4-0 for the first time since 2003.
So it’s time. It’s time to start thinking about how far this Tennessee football team can go.
The Vols have the second most important game of the year this Saturday. They are traveling to Athens to face a Georgia Bulldogs team coming off an embarrassing loss to the Ole Miss Rebels.
However, Tennessee cannot take them lightly. They should have more depth and better athletes while the Dawgs are breaking in a new coach. But Georgia is beyond good enough to catch them napping.
If Tennessee wins, they likely lock up the SEC East. So this is a huge game for them. A win moves them to 5-0, and they move into the back end of their four-game stretch thinking beyond the East.
At that point, they’ll just hope for a split between Texas A&M and Alabama. A split 100 percent assures them an East title provided that they don’t choke in any of their games down the stretch.
It also puts them firmly in the College Football Playoff race.
That type of momentum exemplifies just how big the win over the Gators was. Butch Jones’s team is thinking huge now.
But they need to start smaller. The first step was winning their tough non-conference games. Then it was getting over the Florida hump.
Now, it’s locking up the SEC East. They can do that on Saturday at Georgia. So for right now, the Vols should only be thinking about getting to Atlanta.
And if they win Saturday, they can start to think bigger.