Vols are No. 14, by Dodd

The Tennessee Vols will be the second-best team in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division, the fourth-best team in the league overall and the No. 14 team in college football for 2007.

That isn't carved in stone but it comes straight from Dodd ... Dennis Dodd of cbs.sportsline.com. In his annual "Spring 25," the popular columnist projects Southern Cal and Michigan to finish 1-2 in the season ahead, followed by West Virginia at No. 3. SEC powers LSU and Florida are No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.

Wisconsin (6), Louisville (7), Texas (8), UCLA (9) and Oklahoma (10) round out the top 10.

SEC West contender Auburn leads off Dodd's second 10 at No. 11. Tennessee is 14th, with Arkansas 15th and Georgia 20th. Alabama missed Dodd's top 25 but is among a group of programs lumped in a category called "Fifteen To Watch."

Here's what Dodd has to say about the 2007 Vols:

"We're going to give Erik Ainge the benefit of the doubt and assume his knee will be 100 percent and will hold up through a brutal schedule. You know what happens when you assume."

Tennessee's opening opponent Sept. 1 in Berkeley, California, checks in at No. 16 in Dodd's ratings. Here's his assessment of the Golden Bears:

"Fans are worried that Jeff Tedford will leave because tree huggers are blocking stadium improvements. Could that void his contract if the upgrades aren't made? Stay tuned."

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