We’re just under three months away from the Tennessee Vols’ season opener against the West Virginia Mountaineers, which means we will see plenty of pre-season predictions in the coming weeks/months.

One of those pre-season predictions is from Athlon Sports, a publication that’s been around for a long time (founded in 1967 and based in Nashville).

Athlon Sports has the Volunteers finishing sixth in the SEC East, just ahead of Vanderbilt, with a 5-7 record.

Here’s their “final analysis” for Tennessee:

Tennessee doesn’t have much margin for error, particularly with a challenging schedule that opens with offensive juggernaut West Virginia. The Vols plan to be efficient with a low-risk offense, mindful of turnovers while featuring aggressive blitz packages and coverage schemes. Pruitt hopes that recipe is good enough to produce (at least) six wins in Year 1.

There’s no arguing that Tennessee has a difficult schedule. A four game stretch in the middle of the season against Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama is absolutely brutal.

But the Vols have winnable games against South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky and Vanderbilt on the schedule. If they win three of those games, they should be bowl bound (they have three “easy wins” against UNC-Charlotte, UTEP and East Tennessee State).

In all honesty, there are only three “for sure” losses on the schedule for the Vols (Alabama, Auburn and Georgia).

I don’t love their chances against West Virginia in the season opener, but there’s no way I can write that game off as a loss for UT.

Then there’s the game against Florida, which is a complete toss up. The worst Vols team in the history of the program nearly beat the Gators last season (Butch Jones’ ineptitude was too much for Tennessee to overcome). There’s no reason to think the matchup will fail to be just as close in 2018.

Going 5-7 would be a disappointment for the Vols — even in a “rebuilding year”.

Hopefully for Jeremy Pruitt’s sake, Athlon Sports misses on their prediction.

Featured image via USA Today

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