Back on August 5, The Nightly Daily presented its annual preview of how the Tennessee Volunteers football team would do in the upcoming season (click here to read that). Though my predictions are often woefully off base, my thoughts regarding the team were pretty much on the mark this year.
In August, I picked the Vols to finish 6-6 and go to a bowl. With last Saturday's win against Kentucky, the Volunteers completed the regular season 6-6 and appear headed to the Music City Bowl. At this point, the Music City Bowl berth is not official, but that is where all the speculation is pointing.
All things considered, I think this is an outstanding achievement. On Halloween, the Vols were 2-6 and were headed nowhere fast. However, the team went 4-0 in November to become bowl eligible. I concede the Vols November schedule was weak (the four teams that were played completed the season with a combined 13-35 record). Still, a bowl is a bowl.
When breaking down the schedule before the season, I correctly picked five of the six teams Tennessee would beat. My only mistakes were saying we would beat Oregon and lose to Kentucky. Looking back, picking a win against Oregon appears ridiculous considering the Ducks have been near the top of the polls all year. However, Tennessee was tied with them in the third quarter before Oregon took advantage of several big plays to pull away.
As for Kentucky, I guess I should have known better. I went to the Tennessee/Kentucky game on Saturday, and I still can't figure out how we won. The Wildcats had a ton of talent on offense and better depth. Then again, Tennessee has not lost to them since 1984. I guess this is why Kentucky is considered a basketball school.
First year coach Derek Dooley got about all he could get out of this team. If I had known in August just how soft the offensive and defensive lines would be, I probably would not have picked them to win six. For all the gnashing of teeth that took place when Lane Kiffin bolted for USC after last season, I do not believe Tennessee would have won as many games this year if he had stayed.
Coach Dooley is a good coach. I look forward to watching him rebuild the program.