Tennessee Football: ESPN’s FPI has predicted Tennessee’s 2019 schedule

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers drops back to throw a pass against Louis Vecchio #29 of the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers drops back to throw a pass against Louis Vecchio #29 of the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium on November 24, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /
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A lot of news surrounding the football program has been positive this offseason. That trend continues with ESPN’s FPI projections for the 2019 season.

Earlier in February, ESPN’s FPI ranked Tennessee at 15 in the country. Tennessee’s special teams were ranked tenth best in the country with the offense at 18 and the defense at 19.

This is surprisingly high for Tennessee, but Jeremy Pruitt and the Vols showed some life last season, but I don’t know if many expected the Vols to be all the way at 15th.

Tennessee is one spot above Mississippi State, four spots above South Carolina, and five spots above Missouri. Those three games are the most pivotal on Tennessee’s schedule and could decide if the Vols season is successful or not.

The Vols finished 65th in ESPN’s FPI at the end of last season after going 5-7. That’s a massive jump from December to February, but it looks like the Football Power Index likes what it sees in Pruitt and the Vols in 2019.

Now, the FPI has given its percent to win for each of Tennessee’s games this fall. Tennessee has an 80% or better chance to win five games which already matches their win total from last season.

Tennessee has a 31% chance to beat Florida, a 33.4% chance to beat Georgia, and an 11.6% chance to beat Alabama. A lot of Tennessee fans probably expected that from those three games. Georgia is one that I’d keep an eye on though. That could be a wild one in Knoxville.

For the other four games, the Vols are sitting at 50% chance to win or better. I don’t expect the Vols to win all four of those games but if they did that would put them at nine wins on the season.

Mississippi State is the toss-up game at 55.4%. Tennessee usually draws one of the top teams in the SEC West for their second cross-conference game. The Vols lucked out this year with the Bulldogs and have a good chance to go 1-1 against the SEC West for the second straight year.

Tennessee has a 63% chance to beat South Carolina at home. The Vols haven’t beaten the Gamecocks since Will Muschamp took over. This could be the year that streak ends in Knoxville.

The Vols head to Lexington with a 61.4% chance to beat Kentucky after beating their best team since the 1980s last season. It’s important for Tennessee to start beating the teams they’re supposed to beat at the end of their schedule, and that could start with Kentucky.

Missouri comes in at a 50.4% chance to win as the Vols will go on the road for the second straight week. Missouri is projected to win eight games so this could decide if Tennessee or Missouri reach that eight or nine-game win mark.

Tennessee will finish its 2019 season at home with an 82.5% chance to beat Vanderbilt. Tennessee has been getting beat up by the little brother the past few seasons, and a lot of fans aren’t going to be sold on Pruitt until he can beat Vanderbilt.

Next. Fulmer expects the Vols to make a bowl game. dark

Pruitt has the team to be one of the top teams in the SEC this season he is going to have to put that talent to work on the field and get the job done. 2019 could be a bounce-back year for the Vols and could make for a great fall.