Tennessee Football: Are Vols exceeding expectations?

Tennessee Volunteers

Freshman Devaun Swafford celebrates his second touchdown of the season after a blocked punt return against Georgia (Photo Credit: adn.com)

The Tennessee Volunteers have begun the 2013 campaign the way most expected them to.

Halfway through the season they stand 3-3, 0-2 in conference play, with losses to Oregon, Florida, and Georgia. What most may not have expected, though, were the Vols to have legitimate chances to upset both Florida and Georgia.

It’s safe to say Tennessee’s outing against Oregon went as expected. The game was awash from the beginning. A quarterback experiment gone bad may have cost the Vols their first victory over the rowdy reptiles in nine years, and a resilient stretch for the pylon left them inches short of upsetting a top 10 opponent for the first time since 2006.

If those two games go the Vols way, like the very well could have, Tennessee and Missouri would be leading the standings in the SEC East at the midway point of their respective seasons. A statistic that would make experts heads explode.

While Missouri in fact does lead the SEC East after their victory over Georgia Saturday, Tennessee’s chances of spoiling the party and going to Atlanta are essentially over. What’s far from over, though, is their chance to not only make a bowl game for the first time since the 2010 season, but pull off an upset over a top 25 team.

It may not entirely show up on paper, but the Vols have made some pretty big strides to this point in the season, and with the potential to play four more ranked opponents (No. 11 South Carolina, No. 1 Alabama, No. 24 Auburn, and No. 14 Missouri) they have the chance to really turn some heads if they can continue to put together solid performances.

This young Volunteer team won’t wow you with explosive plays or overwhelming blowouts, but what they can do is keep the opposition honest and hang around until the final whistle. The final step is to finish the long awaited upset, and if their performance maintains level it’s been at so far this season the Vols may not be as far away as most may think from where they want to be.