Hat Guy’s expectations for the Vols’ 2023 season: UPDATED (post-Alabama)

Tennessee’s meltdown in Tuscaloosa last Saturday did some additional damage to the Vols’ SEC hopes. The Vols were 8.5-point underdogs, so for most of last week the loss wasn’t unexpected. A loss didn’t become unexpected until halftime, when the Vols went to the locker room ahead 20-7. The second half made the ultimate outcome especially disappointing. The real disappointment in the win/loss column, though, actually happened several weeks ago in the Swamp when the Vols lost to a Gators team as a 7-point favorite.

But all is not yet lost. Tennessee can still make the SEC championship game, provided they take care of business and get a little help along the way. Here are the current SEC East standings:

Georgia 8-0
Missouri 5-2
Tennessee 3-4
Kentucky 3-5
Florida 3-5
South Carolina 3-5
Vanderbilt 0-7

To get to the top of that list, here’s what needs to happen:

  1. Tennessee wins out. This would put the Vols at 6-2 in conference play. Kentucky would have at least 3 losses; Missouri at least 2. Georgia would have 1 loss, to the Vols.
  2. Florida loses two more games. Florida still has Georgia (this weekend), LSU, and Missouri on the schedule. Right now, Hat Guy has the Gators as 15-point dogs to Georgia and 10-point dogs to LSU and Missouri. As underdogs in all three, they could certainly lose at least two.
  3. Georgia loses another game in addition to losing to Tennessee. This is the most unlikely to happen. Forgetting Tennessee for a moment, Georgia still has to play Florida in a rivalry game this weekend, No. 16 Missouri, and No. 12 Ole Miss. Right now, Hat Guy has the Dawgs as 15-point favorites over Florida, 10-point favorites over Missouri, and 12-point favorites over Ole Miss. The Missouri and Ole Miss games are at home, but the Florida game is, as always, at a neutral site. The Vols need one of those teams to pull off the upset.

Can Tennessee win out?

If the Vols don’t win out in the SEC, nothing else will matter. Here’s how Hat Guy has done so far this year and how he views the possibilities.

Preseason W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 (Bye) W7 W8 W9 W10 W11 W12
VA TN -36 TN 49-13
AP TN 30-13
FL TN -13 FL 29-16
UTSA TN -8 TN 45-14
SC TN -15 TN 41-20
TAMU TAMU -14 TN -1.5 TN 20-13
AL AL -7 AL -3.8 TN -2.1 AL 34-20
KY KY -8 TN -7.7 TN -10.7 TN -6.2 TN 33-27
UCONN TN -32 TN -28 TN -26 TN -25.1 TN -21.7 TN 59-3
MO MO -3 TN -10.5 TN -4.2 MO -2.6 MO -1.6 TN -2.4 GA 36-7
GA GA -6 GA -8.8 GA -6.3 GA -9.3 GA -13.3 GA -8.1 GA -15.4 GA 38-10
VAN TN -17 TN -26.9 TN -25.7 TN -22.9 TN -29.8 TN -27.9 TN -26.6

Straight up, Hat Guy was very wrong about the Florida game and wrong about the Alabama game in the second half. Other than that, though, he’s been pretty spot on. In the last four SEC games, he currently likes the Vols against Kentucky and Vanderbilt, Missouri by a field goal, and Georgia by 9. Our hope on the question of whether the Vols can win out is pinned out first doing what they should, then winning a close one against the Tigers, and finally, Neyland Stadium.

For reference, here are the records and schedules for the Vols and their future and past opponents:

Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols’ future opponents

Kentucky

DNP.

UConn

Missouri

Having increased their record to 7-1 (3-1) with a win over South Carolina last weekend, Missouri will play Georgia next after a bye this weekend. I’m interested to see how that game impacts the comps and Hat Guy’s prediction of the Tigers-Vols game.

Georgia

DNP.

Vanderbilt

DNP.

The Vols’ past opponents

Virginia

Austin Peay

Florida

Florida finding their rhythm is classic good news/bad news. On one side of the ledger, it makes Tennessee’s loss to them look better and increases the odds that they could give Georgia that extrar loss we’re looking for. On the other side, it decreases the odds that they will lose two more games like we need them to.

UTSA

South Carolina

Texas A&M

DNP.

Alabama

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Mr B
Mr B
9 months ago

Enjoy the predictions and opponent schedule summary. I fear we will be in need of several game winning drives, can we do it? Go Vols!

Harley
Harley
8 months ago

It is going to be interesting down the stretch. No room for letdowns… must play to potential and consistently. Hope they are focused on one game at a time and injuries don’t impact. Thanks Joel for the analysis… Go Vols!