Tennessee is less than a week away from starting preseason camp ahead of the upcoming season, and the Vols will be looking to take another step after a better-than-expected debut season under head coach Josh Heupel in 2021. Expectations are now higher for Tennessee, picked to finish third in its division (narrowly behind Kentucky) in the SEC preseason poll. ESPN’s Football Power Index ranks the Vols at No. 25 heading into the season and projects them to win 7.1 games, and the game-by-game predictions for every game on the 2022 schedule are also now out.
What is the FPI? Here is ESPN’s explanation: “Each team’s FPI rating is composed of a predicted offensive, defensive and special team component. These ratings represent the number of points each unit is expected to contribute to the team’s net scoring margin on a neutral field against an average FBS opponent.” It is meant to be a predictive measure, and its projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using the FPI, past results and remaining schedule, and it changes on a weekly basis during the season.
The preseason FPI is determined by four factors: Performance over the past four seasons with the greatest emphasis on this past season; returning starters at quarterback and on offense and defense overall; whether a team has a returning head coach; and recruiting rankings over the past four seasons.
The FPI has a good track record recently with the Vols:
- 2018: Gave Tennessee a better than 50% chance of winning five games and the Vols went 5-7 (the Auburn upset and Vanderbilt loss were the lone “misses” from the preseason projection).
- 2019: Projected win total for Tennessee was 7.6 and the Vols had a better than 50% chance of winning in nine games – they won seven in the regular season even after losing the first two to Georgia State and BYU.
- 2020: Predicted the Vols would go 4-6 after the move to the SEC-only schedule, and they went 3-7.
- 2021: Projected win total was 6.6 games – the Vols won seven games, including two they were given around a 40% chance of winning.
Here’s a game-by-game look at how the FPI breaks down Tennessee’s 2022 schedule.