A look ahead

Tennessee's 2005 football schedule looked imposing in August. Nine days into September it's looking downright intimidating.

Based on last weekend's openers, seven of the Vols' 10 remaining opponents appear stronger than projected. Two of these (Georgia and Notre Dame) appear significantly better than advertised. Five more appear somewhat better than preseason projections. Two teams (South Carolina and Memphis) appear a tad weaker than expected, while one (LSU) did not play.

Here's an updated look at each of the future foes, with last week's result and its current trend:

Sept. 17 at Florida: The Gators toyed with Wyoming, winning 32-14. Florida looks to be a top-10 team. Trend: Upward

Sept. 24 at LSU: The Tigers' game with North Texas was postponed by Hurricane Katrina. Trend: Not applicable

Oct. 1 Ole Miss: The Rebels showed a salty defense but not much offense in a 10-6 win at Memphis. Trend: Slightly upward

Oct. 8: Georgia: New QB D.J. Shockley and the Dawgs were unleashed in a 48-13 annihilation of No. 18 Boise State. Trend: Significantly upward

Oct. 22 at Alabama: The Tide completely shut down Middle Tennessee but sputtered offensively in a 26-7 triumph. Trend: Slightly upward

Oct. 29 South Carolina: The Gamecocks showcased a nice passing attack but absolutely no ground game in a 24-15 defeat of Central Florida. Trend: Slightly downward

Nov. 5 at Notre Dame: The Irish went on the road and manhandled a good Pitt team 42-21. Notre Dame appears much better than projected. Trend: Significantly upward

Nov. 12 Memphis: The Tigers lot 10-6 but had Ole Miss on the ropes until QB Will Hudgens threw a goal line interception into triple coverage in the waning seconds. Trend: Slightly downward

Nov. 19 Vanderbilt: The Commodores don't win openers and they don't win road games. So, winning Game 1 at Wake Forest may be significant. Alas, they have no run defense. Trend: Slightly upward

Nov. 26 at Kentucky: The Wildcats played dead en route to a 28-7 halftime deficit, then roared back to scare Louisville before bowing 31-24. Trend: Upward

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