It was bad enough when the Florida State Seminoles and Clemson Tigers were ranked ahead of Tennessee Football in the Coaches Poll. UT beat Clemson in the Orange Bowl last year, and FSU is the most overrated team entering the 2023 season.
However, we covered everything wrong with those two teams being ahead of the Vols here. Two more teams joined them in the Preseason AP Poll, furthering the disrespect Rocky Top is receiving after an 11-2 campaign and top six finish.
At No. 10 in the preseason Coaches Poll, Tennessee Football is actually down at No. 12 in the AP Poll. Joining FSU and Clemson undeservedly ahead of the Vols are the Texas Longhorns, at No. 11, and the Washington Huskies, at No. 10.
Washington finished 11-2 last year in Kalen DeBoer’s first season on the job. That is the same record UT had, and they are in a more sure situation at quarterback with Michael Penix Jr. returning. However, look beyond the record, and you’ll see these two teams aren’t the same at all.
Last year, Washington just happened to avoid facing the USC Trojans and Utah Utes, the top two teams in the Pac-12. They did score an incredible win over the Oregon Ducks on the road late in the year, and they beat the Oregon State Beavers at home by a field goal, but their resume was overall very weak.
Funny enough, Washington beat Texas in the Alamo Bowl. Texas is getting a lot of love because of the belief that Steve Sarkisian is some elite coach, and maybe he will develop Arch Manning in the future, but there’s no reason to believe in this team with Quinn Ewers.
After going 8-5, how could anybody have them ahead of Tennessee Football? Sure, there are questions surrounding Joe Milton III, but questions are better than a known commodity who is not good. Ewers falls in the latter category.
Just like in the Coaches Poll, Clemson and FSU are No. 9 and No. 8. The Georgia Bulldogs are No. 1 in both polls, and the Michigan Wolverines are No. 2 in both. However, while the Alabama Crimson Tide are No. 3 in the Coaches Poll, they are No. 4 in the AP Poll, outside of the top three for the first time since 2009.
Instead, the Ohio State Buckeyes, No. 4 in the Coaches Poll, are No. 3 in the AP Poll. Both polls have the LSU Tigers, USC and then the Penn State Nittany Lions at No. 5, 6 and 7 respectively. All of those have a case to be ahead of the Vols, even if Penn State is on shaky ground.
FSU, Clemson, Texas and Washington should all be behind Tennessee Football, though. Heck, you may have a better argument for the Kansas State Wildcats or TCU Horned Frogs at this point. Still, just like the Coaches Poll, this is the highest preseason ranking for UT since 2016, and they have overachieved every year under Josh Heupel.