Why I voted Tennessee No. 1 for a second straight week

Tennessee (6-0, 3-0 SEC) defeated Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC), 52-49, at Neyland Stadium in Week 7.

The Vols have recorded four top 25 wins during the 2022 season under second-year head coach Josh Heupel.

When Heupel was hired as Tennessee’s head coach in Jan. 2021, I began studying his background and offense.

The e-book “Josh Heupel’s Offense” details his background as a player and coach, while studying his time as co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and then him implementing a veer-and-shoot offense on his own as Missouri’s play-caller and then at UCF.

Heupel is transforming the Southeastern Conference and college football with his scheme and philosophies in how the game is played both offensively and defensively.

Ahead of the Tennessee-Alabama game, Vols Wire highlighted why Heupel would cause problems for Nick Saban and that UT was destined to score at least 35 points in Week 7.

Saban discussed how Heupel’s scheme, that Alabama faced in Week 1, would present challenges later in the season with more athletic and bigger teams.

“They’re sort of challenging with some of the things that they do,” Saban said of playing Utah State and offensive coordinator Anthony Tucker in Week 1. “No disrespect to Utah State, their players played hard, they have a good team.

We’re going to play teams that are much more physical, aggressive and talented than what they are, so we are going to have to do things correctly and it is going to be important for guys to understand that.”

Tucker served as running backs coach (2018-20) under Heupel at UCF.

He also served as passing game coordinator (2019) and co-offensive coordinator (2020) under Heupel with the Knights.

Vols Wire also highlighted how Alabama’s defensive player personnel fared against Tucker and Utah State, providing reason for Tennessee’s players to have success against the Crimson Tide.

Following Week 6, I voted Tennessee No. 1 in the Football Writers Association of America-National Football Foundation Super 16 poll because the Vols recorded three top 25 wins in five contests,

while expecting UT to have success against Alabama following how they played in various situations against Utah State’s scheme.

My FWAA-NFF Super 16 ballot is listed next ranking Tennessee No. 1 for a second consecutive week.

The entire Week 7 FWAA-NFF Super 16 poll can be viewed here when made public later Sunday.

1. Tennessee 2. Georgia

3. Ohio State 4. Michigan

5. Ole Miss 6. Clemson

7. TCU 8. UCLA

9. Syracuse 10. Alabama

11. Oklahoma State 12. USC

13. Wake Forest 14. Oregon

15. Kansas State 16. Illinois


Tennessee's 2023 football schedule announced