Making a prediction for how the Tennessee Vols’ 2021 season will play out is a difficult task.

No one really knows what to expect in year one of the Josh Heupel era. The Vols lost a lot of talent from their roster, but Heupel has also added some quality talent to the roster via the transfer portal.

Will we see a typical Heupel offense that leads the conference in scoring? Or will Heupel’s fast offensive pace have a negative impact on the Vols’ defense, causing Tennessee to lose games in shootout fashion?

Those are questions that can’t be answered quite yet. But that’s not going to stop predictions from being made.

Tennessee Vols

ESPN’s FPI prediction model (ESPN’s objective process is explained here) recently predicted every game on Tennessee’s schedule.

ESPN’s FPI predictions have Tennessee finishing with a 6-6 record.

Here’s how they break the schedule down (along with the Vols’ chances of winning each game).

  • 97.6% chance to beat Bowling Green
  • 51.9% chance to beat Pittsburgh
  • 99.3% chance to beat Tennessee Tech
  • 16.2% chance to beat Florida
  • 40.9% chance to beat Missouri
  • 68.8% chance to beat South Carolina
  • 41.8% chance to beat Ole Miss
  • 4.4% chance to beat Alabama
  • 41.4% chance to beat Kentucky
  • 18.2% chance to beat Georgia
  • 93.1% chance to beat South Alabama
  • 87.4% chance to beat Vanderbilt

ESPN essentially has several “toss-up” games on Tennessee’s schedule. The matchups against Pittsburgh, Missouri, Ole Miss, and Kentucky could go either way.

This means the Vols could realistically finish anywhere from 4-8 to 7-5.

If Heupel can lead Tennessee to six wins or more, it would be a massive accomplishment for the first-year Vols head coach.

Note: An earlier version of this story erroneously omitted the prediction for the South Alabama game and incorrectly stated ESPN’s FPI model was predicting Tennessee to finish with a 5-7 record. We apologize for the error — Zach R

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