Friends, I think it's time.
It's fair to say that the 2021 Tennessee Volunteers exceeded expectations. A 7-6 overall record was a nice surprise considering the offseason coaching change – necessitated by numerous NCAA violations – and subsequent roster turnover. However, only two opponents of those seven victories finished the season with winning records, South Carolina and Kentucky. The combined win-loss record of Tennessee's seven victories a season ago was 37-49.
In other words, the Vols won the games that a Tennessee team should win. I'll admit, I'm dismissing the win against Kentucky a little bit. It needs to be said that the Wildcats did manage to win 10 games last year and finished the season in the AP Top-25 poll. It was a really nice win for Tennessee. It's just that I'm 30 years old and I've only seen Kentucky beat Tennessee three times in my lifetime. For me, that game will pretty much always be in the "should win" category for Tennessee.
Now it's time for this Vols team to take the next step. This Saturday's matchup with Pittsburgh presents the perfect opportunity to do just that. The Panthers are defending ACC champions, they're coming off a big Week One win over a rival, they're ranked 17th in the AP Top-25 poll, and they're at home. Tennessee might be the betting favorite in this one, but Pittsburgh is far from being placed in the "should win" category.
A victory at Heinz Field – yes, I know it's Acrisure Stadium now but, come on, I'm not calling it that – would go a long way toward demonstrating that Tennessee really has turned a corner.
How do I see this game unfolding? Let's take a look.