Don't look now, but the Volunteers are on the up and up and could be a team to watch out for in the SEC. It's time to break down their chances of competing and look over the college football odds.
College Football Futures Odds Overview
Don't think the Volunteers will be better than people think in 2015? Well, you may want to have more faith in Vegas, who have priced out Tennessee as a legitimate threat in college football for the coming season.
When we check over the college football odds, we see the Vols are in the +6000 to +7000 range to be the last ones standings when the playoffs conclude. If we look only at the SEC, Tennessee is hovering at around +1000 to win the conference, priced similarly to the likes of Ole Miss, LSU, Missouri and Arkansas.
Tennessee Volunteers: 2014 Recap
Yes, there were numerous struggles again last season for the Vols, but they improved as the season wore on, which should give them some confidence ahead of the start of 2015.
All in all, Tennessee finished with a 6-6 regular season record, which was barely good enough to receive a berth to a bowl. The Vols were invited to the Taxslayer Bowl and there they beat Iowa 45-28 to close out the year on a high note.
Joshua Dobbs took over the quarterback job in the middle of the season and ran with the extra responsibility. He had some outstanding moments and finished with nine touchdown passes and six interceptions while also adding 469 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns to his tally. Dobbs linked up nicely with Pig Howard, who led Tennessee by logging 618 receiving yards in 2014.
In terms of running backs, it was the Jalen Hurd show. A sophomore like Dobbs, Hurd's youth didn't stop him from torching the SEC for 899 rushing yards, 221 receiving yards and 10 combined touchdowns from scrimmage. You have to figure Hurd will have an even bigger impact as a junior.
Tennessee Volunteers: 2015 Look-Ahead
With the duo of Dobbs and Herd leading the way, the Vols should be able to score plenty of points this coming season.
The schedule is never easy in the SEC, and this season's no different. Not only will Tennessee have to deal with Alabama and Georgia among others, but the Vols will also meet up with Oklahoma in non-conference play. It's a very challenging schedule, which could end up being the biggest obstacle standing in this team's way.
There's a group of three teams in the SEC that seem to be on another level, those being Alabama, Georgia and Auburn, but nonetheless, it wouldn't be terribly shocking to see other teams creep in and make their presence felt.
Tennessee could be one of those darkhorses, that is if everything comes together and major injuries are avoided. The Volunteers have a couple offensive pieces in Dobbs and Hurd that are going to account for a ton of yardage and points between them, and that should act as a solid foundation for the team to work from. It's going to be interesting to see if Tennessee is able to step its game up defensively as well for the 2015 season.
What it comes down to is the perceived value and potential return, and the price on the Vols is very appealing in that regard. They've got the talent to do some damage, so you could do worse than ride along with Tennessee as one of your wildcard futures bets.
Still, it's a little tough to get all that excited when considering the talent level of some of the other teams out there, particularly in the SEC. The lines are intriguing, but as we said, there are far worse "longshot" College Football Picks out there on the futures list.