And it’s not good for the Vols.
Here’s a quick reminder of how ESPN’s FPI works and what goes into its predictions:
The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily. FPI data from seasons prior to 2019 may not be complete
And here’s how ESPN’s FPI has each game playing out for the Vols (the FPI gives Tennessee’s percentage chance of winning each game…anything less than 50 percent is considered a loss).
- Ball State @ Tennessee — 95.1% Win (1-0)
- Tennessee @ Pittsburgh — 37.3% Loss (1-1)
- Akron @ Tennessee — 97.3% Win (2-1)
- Florida @ Tennessee — 60.2% Win (3-1)
- Tennessee @ LSU — 32.3% Loss (3-2)
- Alabama @ Tennessee — 11.9 % Loss (3-3)
- UT-Martin @ Tennessee — 98.5% Win (4-3)
- Kentucky @ Tennessee — 47.4% Loss (4-4)
- Tennessee @ Georgia — 7.4 % Loss (4-5)
- Missouri @ Tennessee — 78.5% Win (5-5)
- Tennessee @ South Carolina — 55.9% Win (6-5)
- Tennessee @ Vanderbilt — 87.9% Win (7-5)
A 7-5 record in 2022 would mean no improvement from last season for the Vols. That would be a tough pill to swallow, though beating Florida would make it a bit easier to digest.
ESPN’s FPI isn’t perfect, but it’s usually pretty accurate. It had Tennessee winning 6.6 games last season, which turned out to be almost spot on.
Now, that doesn’t mean I agree with these predictions. Charlie Burris and I will reveal our game-by-game predictions on the Big Orange Podcast before the start of the 2022 season. I’m still deciding on a few games. But I’ll go ahead and tell you that I don’t see the Volunteers losing at home to Kentucky.
As good as Kentucky has been lately, Tennessee still has their number.
The Wildcats have beaten Tennessee three times since Phillip Fulmer was fired in 2008. They beat UT in 2011, 2017, and 2020.
In two of those years, the Vols fired their coach (2017 and 2020). The 2011 season was a total disaster under Derek Dooley. I’m not surprised Tennessee lost the Wildcats that season.
The point, though, is that Kentucky only seems to beat the Vols when the program is in disarray.
And I hate to disappoint UK fans, but Tennessee football is absolutely not in disarray at the moment.
Predictions usually don’t mean much, but ESPN’s FPI is typically reliable. Tennessee fans better hope they messed up on some math along the way, because this outcome would be a colossal letdown for the Vols this season.
Featured image via Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK