UT 12th in post-spring ratings

The good news: Tennessee is ranked No. 12 in SI.com columnist Stewart Mandel's post-spring College Football Power Rankings for 2008. The bad news: The Vols must play three teams ranked above them between Sept. 20 and Oct. 11.

SI.com is the website for Sports Illustrated magazine.

After opening with UCLA (Sept. 1) and Alabama-Birmingham (Sept. 13), Tennessee plays seventh-ranked Florida (Sept. 20), ninth-ranked Auburn (Sept. 27), Northern Illinois (Oct. 4) and top-ranked Georgia (Oct. 11) in a span of 28 days.

Can you say "Murderer's Row?"

Mandel obviously expects the Vols to survive that imposing stretch or he wouldn't tab Tennessee No. 12 in his power rankings. Here's what he has to say about the Big Orange:

Tennessee Volunteers (10-4)

Returning starters: 14 (Offense: 8 Defense: 6)

Key returnees: RB Arian Foster, WR Lucas Taylor, G Anthony Parker, S Eric Berry.

Spring star: WR Gerald Jones. The athletic sophomore merited his own package -- "the G-Gun" -- in which he lines up at QB and can throw or run.

Spring recap: The Vols adjusted to eight new assistants, most notably offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, who experimented with both Jones and Berry in the shotgun. Jonathan Crompton looks ready to take over for Erik Ainge at QB.

Eight new assistants? Actually, the number is four, Stewart, but we'll overlook one mistake since you were intelligent enough to list six SEC teams in your post-spring top 25.

In addition to Georgia at No. 1, Florida at No. 7, Auburn at No. 9 and UT at No. 12, Mandel rates LSU No. 5 and Alabama No. 24. It should be noted, however, that LSU head man Les Miles has dismissed No. 1 quarterback Ryan Perrilloux since Mandel's rankings were compiled and posted.

Regardless, here's a look at Mandel's top 25:

1. Georgia

2. Ohio State

3. Southern Cal

4. Missouri

5. LSU

6. Oklahoma

7. Florida

8. Texas Tech

9. Auburn

10. Wisconsin

11. Clemson

12. Tennessee

13. Texas

14. West Virginia

15. Kansas

16. Arizona State

17. Brigham Young

18. Oregon State

19. Illinois

20. Oregon

21. Penn State

22. Cincinnati

23. Virginia Tech

24. Alabama

25. Pittsburgh

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