6. WRONG: Vols projected behind both Kentucky and Missouri
Perhaps this is a bit ambitious, but Tennessee football will finish ahead of at least one team between the Kentucky Wildcats and Missouri Tigers. The Vols, being picked fifth in the East, were picked behind both of them, and to be fair, it makes sense on paper.
Last year, Mizzou shocked the world to go 5-5 and finish third in the East under first-year head coach Eli Drinkwitz. Kentucky, meanwhile, went 4-6, which was a solid performance again for Mark Stoops. Most notably, though, Stoops’ team marched into Knoxville and stomped on the Vols with a shocking 34-7 win, their first win at Neyland since 1984.
That was the beginning of a major downfall for Rocky Top, which probably helped with the decision to fire Jeremy Pruitt along with the NCAA investigation. Anyway, Missouri’s strong finish and Kentucky’s dominant win in Knoxville to help them finish one game ahead of UT is why both teams are projected ahead of Josh Heupel’s first team.
We should also add that the Vols have to play both of these guys on the road. Still, amidst all of that, the Vols will exceed expectations by finishing ahead of one of them, or these guys will fail expectations. Outside of last year, UT traditionally owns Kentucky, and they did blow out Mizzou last year. As a result, the SEC will be proven wrong to have both ahead of the Vols.