A closer look at the 2nd half of Tennessee’s season: Can the Vols go 3-3, reach a bowl?


KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — At the midpoint of the season, now is a perfect time to reevaluate my preseason predictions.

Let’s see how I fared so far and determine if we need to tweak any of the predicted outcomes for the rest of the year.

At the risk of bragging, my August predictions have been pretty spot-on so far.

Aug. 31 vs. Austin Peay

Speculative line: UT by 45.

Actual line: UT by 49.

My prediction: UT, 45-7.

Actual score: UT, 45-0.

Sept. 7 vs. Western Kentucky

Speculative line: UT by 21.

Actual line: UT by 14.

My prediction: UT, 31-14.

Actual score: UT, 52-20.

Sept. 14  at Oregon

Oregon’s Autzen Stadium (photo by Evan Woodbery)

Speculative line: Oregon by 20.

Actual line: Oregon by 28.

My prediction: Oregon, 45-14

Actual score: Oregon, 59-14.

Sept. 21   @ Florida   

Speculative line: UF by 17.

Actual line: UF by 16.5

My prediction: Florida, 31-14.

Actual score: Florida, 31-17.

Sept. 28   vs. South Alabama

Speculative line: UT by 23.

Actual line: UT by 16.5.

My prediction: UT, 38-17

Actual score: UT, 31-24.

Oct. 5  vs. Georgia

The Vols lost in overtime to Georgia.

Speculative line: Georgia by 15

Actual line: Georgia by 13.5

My prediction: Georgia 35-28.

Actual score: Georgia 34-31, OT. (fixed earlier error)

(I’m using line information from VegasInsider, which may differ slightly from other sites. All lines are for informational/entertainment purposes ONLY.)

The rest of the schedule looks more difficult in some areas, but could be easier in others. South Carolina is difficult to figure, but still quite dangerous. Auburn and Missouri have exceeded expectations, although an injury to quarterback James Franklin could be devastating for Mizzou’s powerful offense. (Coach Gary Pinkel strongly disputed a report that Franklin would be out for the rest of the year).

What about the other James Franklin? Well, he and the Commodores are having a rough year, but the UT-Vandy meeting in Knoxville still promises to be an important and emotional meeting.

Here’s a look at the final six games, with both my August predictions and any changes I care to make.

Oct. 19 vs. South Carolina

Old speculative line: S. Carolina by 12

Actual opening line: S. Carolina by 7.

Speculative odds of winning: 33 percent.

My prediction: South Carolina 28-27. (I’m sticking with this one. For now.)

Oct. 26 at Alabama

Old speculative line: Alabama by 24.

New speculative line: Alabama by 22.

Speculative odds of winning: 8 percent.

My prediction: Alabama, 38-10

New prediction: Alabama, 34-14.

Butch Jones in practice earlier this year (photo by Evan Woodbery)

Nov. 2   at Missouri

Speculative line: Missouri by 2.

New speculative line: Missouri by 4. (Obviously, how the Tigers adjust to Franklin’s absence will have a big impact.)

Speculative odds of winning: 49 percent.

New speculative odds of winning: 40 percent.

My prediction: Missouri 24-23. (I’ll stick with this one).

Nov. 9 vs. Auburn

Speculative line: UT by 3

New speculative line: Auburn by 3.

Speculative odds of winning: 56 percent

New speculative odds of winning: 45 percent.

My old prediction: UT, 41-27.

My new prediction: UT, 34-33.

Nov. 23 vs. Vanderbilt

Speculative line: UT by 2

New speculative line: UT by 6.

Old speculative odds of winning: 52 percent.

New speculative odds of winning: 66 percent.

My prediction: UT,  30-17. (Unchanged.)

Nov. 30  at Kentucky

Speculative line: UT by 8

New speculative line: UT by 11.

Speculative odds of winning: 66 percent.

New speculative odds of winning: 79 percent.

My prediction: UT, 33-14 (unchanged).

My final predicted record:  6-6 (3-5 SEC)

Monte Carlo simulation (I’ll blog on this later.)

9-3: 0 percent

8-4: 2.8 percent

7-5: 18.5 percent

6-6: 36.7 percent

5-7: 29.5 percent

4-8: 11.6 percent

3-9: 1 percent