Vols ranked top 20 with top five QB unit by outlet

It’s hard to figure out what College Football News thinks of Tennessee football this year. As we wrote about previously, the outlet has the Vols projected to go 8-4 this year, beating the Georgia Bulldogs on the road but at the same time losing at home to the Florida Gators and at the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Well, even with that 8-4 record, the Vols came in at No. 20 in the outlet’s preseason rankings for all 131 teams. However, when you see that ranking, it actually makes sense how the Vols could be projected to be so wildly inconsistent this year.

Beyond the ranking, the outlet also ranked Tennessee football’s quarterback unit No. 5 in the nation behind the Ohio State Buckeyes, Alabama Crimson Tide, LSU Tigers and USC Trojans. Here’s what was written about the Vols on that front.

Is this the year when Hendon Hooker gets national respect for being among the most consistent and effective passers in the country? All he did was throw for close to 3,000 yards with 31 touchdowns and three picks, and he didn’t even start the season – Joe Milton did. Milton struggled at Michigan and early on with the Vols, but he’s not a bad No. 2.

It’s about time Hendon Hooker got the respect he deserved, and it’s also time this quarterback unit in general got the respect. After all, as was pointed out, Joe Milton III has starting experience himself, and Tayven Jackson, a four-star recruit, wasn’t even mentioned. Navy Shuler, the son of Heath Shuler was also left out.

Anyway, back to the rankings, what’s clear is that CFN is higher on some of UT’s opponents than other teams. Florida comes in ranked No. 11. South Carolina comes in ranked No. 27, which is how you could explain the Vols losing to them. LSU, another projected loss for them, is ranked No. 22.

Since UT plays LSU on the road like South Carolina, that loss also makes sense. Add in the Pittsburgh Panthers, the Vols’ second opponent of the season and another road game, being ranked No. 21, and the Kentucky Wildcats coming in at No. 29, and 8-4 is just a reflection of what CFN thinks Rocky Top’s schedule will be like.

Looking at that breakdown, seven of the Vols’ 12 opponents are top 30 schools, and five are top 25 schools. UGA is No. 3, but you could see a team like the Vols pulling an upset there if they are what CFN projects them to be, and their other loss, the Alabama Crimson Tide, are No. 1.

Simply put, Tennessee football seems bound for inconsistency with this schedule, and that’s what the outlet is predicting. However, when you have a great quarterback, you’re always capable of a big win, and that’s also what’s being predicted here, so the QB unit ranking combined with the overall ranking explains the projected record.

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