Tennessee Volunteers Football

SEC Football Q&A: Is Tennessee's Season a Disappointment If Vols Miss a Bowl?

Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs
Tennessee QB Joshua DobbsKyle Rivas/Getty Images
Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 21, 2013

Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email at bsallee@bleacherreport.com.

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you for your questions. If I didn't get to them this week, they will be saved and used in the future.

And we're off! 

@BarrettSallee if vols don't become bowl eligible, has this season been a disappointment for butch jones?

— Stuart D. Davis (@stu623) November 21, 2013

No, it won't be a disappointment because, while Tennessee didn't make a bowl game, it still did something that no Derek Dooley-coached team did during his time on Rocky Top—notch a signature win.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones
Tennessee head coach Butch JonesRandy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

When all is said and done, it's easy to look at the record and determine what's a successful rebuilding year and what isn't, but Vols fans should take the easy way out. Tennessee (4-6) has to beat Vanderbilt and Kentucky to get to .500, and while it wouldn't be easy to swallow losses to either program, there are positives to take away from Butch Jones' inaugural campaign.

The Vols beat a Top 10 team when they topped South Carolina in October, and nearly beat Georgia the week before. Injuries—particularly the thumb injury to quarterback Justin Worley—derailed some momentum but did give some youngsters some experience, including freshman quarterback Josh Dobbs.

On top of that, Tennessee currently has the second-ranked class in the country according to the 247Sports.com composite. Of the 31 players committed in the class, 11 are defensive players with 4 stars or more.

The future is bright on Rocky Top. It's just not shining as brightly as some Vols fans imagined after Year 1. 

 

@BarrettSallee rebuilding year for UGA next year I assume or is there hope for a championship of some sort?

— Carlos Esquandolas (@surefootedllama) November 21, 2013

Well, the East is likely going to be wide open yet again. 

Georgia will likely start Hutson Mason at quarterback, but South Carolina will have a new quarterback as well, Missouri will have Maty Mauk as a full-time starter, Florida's Jeff Driskel will be coming off an injury and the rest of the division will be average at best at the quarterback spot.

Georgia QB Hutson Mason
Georgia QB Hutson MasonDale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With Todd Gurley and a presumably healthy Keith Marshall back at running back, Georgia will have a nice safety net for Mason to fall back on, plus you'd think another year of seasoning would do wonders for that inexperienced defense. The problem is, if Todd Grantham is still Georgia's defensive coordinator, he's done nothing to suggest that he can get the most out of any defense—even one that's loaded with NFL talent like last year's was.

Georgia's 2014 schedule is tough, though. At least, out of the gate.

The Bulldogs open with Clemson at home and travel to South Carolina in Week 3 following a bye week. They'll head to Missouri in October and have the always-tough Cocktail Party against Florida in Jacksonville in early November. 

Tough, but certainly manageable. 

Georgia being in the national title mix may be a stretch, but the Bulldogs should surely be in the SEC East discussion in 2014.

Georgia RB Todd Gurley
Georgia RB Todd GurleySam Greenwood/Getty Images

 

@BarrettSallee No it probably won't happen but based on #SEC strength of schedule is there legit argument for 1 loss SEC team to #BCS title?

— Tim Frisby (@impopsfrisby89) November 21, 2013

It all depends on the situation, but unless there's only one BCS AQ undefeated team in the discussion, the SEC won't get in.

No. 3 Ohio State, while viewed as a bit of a pushover in SEC circles thanks to two consecutive eggs laid on the big stage following the 2006 and 2007 seasons, is still an undefeated team in a major conference. If it runs the table—which would likely include a win over a very underrated Michigan State team in the Big Ten Championship Game—the Buckeyes deserve to go over a one-loss SEC champion.

Baylor QB Bryce Petty
Baylor QB Bryce PettyRonald Martinez/Getty Images

But if No. 4 Baylor keeps winning, the Bears will likely jump Ohio State and be the "next man up" if either Alabama or Florida State falters.

One-loss Alabama would have no chance based on how its schedule sets up, because that one loss would likely be either to one-loss Auburn, one-loss Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game. If it's to either Missouri or Auburn, that team would then move above Alabama in the BCS pecking order. 

If either Auburn or Missouri runs the table, they'd move to the top spot among one-loss teams above No. 5 Oregon, but not above any of the BCS AQ teams. 

 

Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at bsallee@bleacherreport.com.

 


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