Tennessee football's floor and ceiling for the 2024 season

UTSA v Tennessee
UTSA v Tennessee / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

Tennessee football is entering a new era with redshirt freshman Nico Iamaleava running the offense full-time. It could be a fun year where Nico lives up to the hype and gets Tennessee into the College Football Playoff or a foundation year for the Vols to build on for the next few years. 

That's where On3 Sports is projecting Tennessee to be with their ceiling and floor predictions. On3's Andy Staples believes Tennessee is anywhere from an 8-4 to a CFP team. 

"Very intriguing team," Andy Staples said. "Tennessee is one of these.  is one of these. I explain to people, as divisions go away in these various leagues, like the Big Ten and the SEC, schedule draw means a lot. Tennessee's schedule draw is not's schedule draw, it's not's schedule draw. It is much closer to Ole Miss' schedule draw. Therefore, I am making Tennessee's ceiling a Playoff berth."

Cody Bellaire joined Staples and agreed that Tennessee's ceiling is clinching a spot in the newly-expanded College Football Playoff, citing the Vols could make a CFP run with a generational quarterback. 

"Yes, and you know what helps a Playoff run? Having a generational quarterback," Bellaire said. "Nico Iamaleava has a chance to bring Tennessee back into the Playoff conversation and light up the scoreboard like we saw when he was taking snaps for the Vols. He was the number-one player in the country for On3 for a reason. He has elite arm talent. He's a dynamic athlete. He's got all the tools that Josh Heupel is looking for at the quarterback position."

It's clear Tennessee has the potential to be a playoff team, but the Vols will have to run through a gauntlet SEC schedule with an inexperienced quarterback. It's possible Nico will pick up where he left off in the Citrus Bowl and win ten games, but it's also possible the Vols will drop a couple of games and fall to 8-4. 

That's where Staples and Bellaire have Tennessee's floor, giving the Vols a maximum of four losses this season. That would match Tennessee's wins from last season before the bowl game and give the Vols plenty of momentum for the 2025 season. 

"Their floor? I think it's probably 8-4," Staples said. Bellaire responded by saying, "I agree. I just think Josh Heupel brings so much continuity to this offense. Yes, it's Nico. Yes, he's getting his feet wet as a starter, but Josh Heupel, especially with the communication they're able to have in this offense, and his ability to improvise and make things happen and just be himself."

Tennessee is in a great spot heading into the 2024 season. With the expanded SEC, it will be tough for the Vols to make the SEC Championship game, but if Nico and the Vols can win a game they're not supposed to win, they could find themselves in Atlanta at the end of the year.