The Tennessee Volunteers have the best roster since the Chic-Fil-A Bowl appearance in 2009, and this team might be even better. While they certainly won't beat everyone on their schedule, there is at least one reason that they could beat each opponent.
A seven-to-eight-win season is a must for Derek Dooley's future with the Vols, and to be honest, it's a must for the sanity of Big Orange fans all across the country.
Here we go. One reason why the Vols can beat every opponent...
One reason: Extreme excitement for first game at full strength since 2010.
Tennessee hasn't had its full starting roster since Herman Lathers played in 2010. Last year, the injuries piled on, from Justin Hunter to Brent Brewer to Tyler Bray.
The Vols will be doubly excited to be the first game of the 2012 college football season, too. You'll have to skip your son's/brother's high school football game that night.
Friday, August 31st is game on.
One reason: Vols are simply superior to the newcomers to the FBS.
Georgia State joined the FBS in 2010 and went an impressive 6-5. However, the Panthers came back down to earth last year with a 3-8 record.
Think 2009 and Western Kentucky (63-7).
One reason: Florida is down, and Vols get to play them in Knoxville.
Tennessee hasn't beaten Florida in seven years. I'll admit that I thought last year was the year the streak would end before making this prediction: This is the year the streak ends!
The Gators lost John Brantley, Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey to graduation, the NFL and a professional track career in Demps' case. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis bolted for Kansas.
The Vols have to get it done against a historically weak Florida team.
One reason: The Zips are 5-31 since 2009.
The Vols may have had a tumultuous three years but at 18-20, Tennessee has been significantly better than Akron.
Chalk it up now.
One reason: Bulldogs will overlook Vols in anticipation of an SEC East showdown at South Carolina.
Until an eight-point Tennessee loss at home in 2011, the Georgia-Tennessee game has been a blowout for one side or the other.
Seven out of the last nine years, the game has been decided by 12 or more points, five of which were by more than 17. With Georgia having an important East battle with South Carolina immediately after the Tennessee game, they will overlook the Vols.
One reason: Tennessee gets two weeks to prepare for a disappointing Mississippi State team.
After a stellar 9-4 record in 2010, much was expected of the Bulldogs last season, but they didn't deliver. They finished just one win better than the Volunteers in the regular season.
This fall, Tennessee gets a well-deserved bye week before they travel to Starkville, which bodes well for the now-experienced Vols.
One reason: Within the confines of Neyland Stadium, miracles can happen.
I don't mean to be pessimistic, but the Tide are the defending BCS national champions and don't appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Will Tennessee beat 'Bama again? Of course. But I don't see it until the Tide slips up or Nick Saban retires, to be honest.
One reason: Terribly difficult three-game stretch for Gamecocks leading up to bout with the Vols.
Leading up to the game against Tennessee, South Carolina faces Georgia, goes to Florida and goes to LSU. Ouch!
Not to mention, the following game at Arkansas should draw even more attention away from the incoming Volunteers. The potent Tennessee offense should be able to take advantage early of a beleaguered Gamecocks team.
One reason: Troy averaged a Sun Belt Conference third-worst 22.4 points per game and went 3-9 in 2011.
Did you know that Dallas Cowboys star DeMarcus Ware went to Troy? Pretty cool, huh?
Chalk this one up a la Akron Zips.
One reason: Baptism by fire for the newest addition to the SEC East.
The November slate of games for the Missouri Tigers features three road games against Florida, Tennessee and fellow newbie Texas A&M.
Mizzou matches up fairly evenly with the Vols but with a full season of SEC competition to play, the Tigers will have a tough time winning their first-ever meeting with Tennessee in Neyland Stadium.
One reason: Vandy has a loud coach and an improved team, but Vols still reign supreme in Tennessee.
James Franklin followers claim that the Volunteers lash out against him because he is "a threat." Pardon me for my brashness, but Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Florida are far greater threats, and yet Tennessee fans don't lash out against their coaches.
Because they've earned it. With a 6-7 record with wins against Elon, UConn, Ole Miss, Army, Kentucky and Wake Forest, Vanderbilt has a ways to go before contending with Tennessee regularly.
P.S. Derek Dooley is 2-0 against Vandy, and Franklin is 0-1 against Tennessee. What are we talking about?
One reason: The new 26-year streak starts on November 24th.
The loss against Kentucky last year was a shocker. Not only was it the end of the longest active winning streak in college football, it happened against one of the worst Wildcat teams I've seen in my short 22 years.
What say you, more weathered Vol fans?
Kentucky is still a bad team, and the Vols will get back on track with sheer talent.