When the Tennessee Vols lost in overtime to the Purdue Boilermakers in the Music City Bowl last week, it felt like the offseason hype train for UT came to a stop.
If the Vols would’ve beat Purdue, and finished with an 8-5 record in Josh Heupel’s first season leading the program, it likely would’ve led to an offseason full of writers and analysts hyping up Tennessee football.
A 7-6 record, while impressive, doesn’t pop on a Wikipedia page quite like an 8-5 record.
But despite the loss to Purdue, there might actually still be some hype for the Vols entering the 2022 season.
ESPN’s updated FPI Top 25 has Tennessee ranked as the No. 24 team in the country (with Purdue at No. 23).
ESPN’s FPI is described as a “Football Power Index that measures team’s true strength on net points scale; expected point margin vs average opponent on a neutral field.”
The Vols will return most of their key players from 2021. Their biggest losses will be offensive lineman Cade Mays, wide receiver Velus Jones Jr, wide receiver JaVonta Payton, defensive back Alontae Taylor, defensive back Theo Jackson, and defensive end Matthew Butler.
Quarterback Hendon Hooker and wide receiver Cedric Tillman announced before the Music City Bowl that they’re returning to Tennessee for their final seasons of eligibility.
While the hype for the Vols won’t be as loud as it would’ve been if they had beat Purdue, there should still be a favorable view of Tennessee football from a national perspective this offseason.
A little less hype isn’t a bad thing. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what folks are saying — it only matters what happens on the field.
Featured image via Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK