There are two contrasting statements that are true about the Tennessee Vols.

  1. Tennessee shouldn’t be in the top 25 because of their five losses.
  2. Tennessee is absolutely playing like a top 25 team right now.

It’s funny how college football works. There’s so much weight put on losses and when they happened. We often don’t look at how a team is currently playing.

And look, I get it. I’m not advocating for Tennessee to be put in the top 25. I don’t think they’ve been slighted in the least. Results are all that matters when it comes to rankings. A team that loses to Georgia State and BYU to start the season is going to have a huge uphill battle ahead of them to reach the top 25. Blowout losses to Florida and Georgia certainly didn’t help UT’s cause.

But if we forget all of the Georgia State stuff and just focus on the football that’s being played in November, then I think Tennessee is one of the 25 best teams in the country.

The Vols have won five of their last six games. Two of those games were road SEC wins. Two more of those games were home SEC wins. And the lone loss was against Alabama — a top five team that Tennessee hung with into the fourth quarter.

The teams that UT has beat this season haven’t been great, but they haven’t been terrible, either. Missouri has quality wins against West Virginia and South Carolina. Kentucky beat Arkansas and Missouri and barely lost to Florida. Mississippi State beat Kentucky. And South Carolina has a huge win against Georgia.

While it’s true that Tennessee hasn’t played perfect during their four game winning streak, it’s still pretty clear they’ve been improving each week and playing winning football.

The teams that are currently occupying the backend of the the top 25 are Appalachian State, Virginia Tech, Navy and USC. The teams just outside the top 25 are Iowa State and Virginia.

If Tennessee were to play any of those teams right now, it would essentially be a “toss up” game. The Vols are right there with all of those teams. They could lose to all of them or they could beat all of them. Those matchups could truly go either way.

Two months ago, we were wondering if Tennessee could even win three or four games this season.

Now they have a chance to finish the season with eight wins (if they beat Vanderbilt next week and win their bowl game).

It’s stunning how far this team has come this season under Jeremy Pruitt.

Vol fans should certainly be excited to see what comes in the next few seasons. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it won’t be long until Tennessee is a fixture in the top 25.

Featured image via Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

 

 

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