The Orlando Sentinel has ranked all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 120 to our projected No. 1 team. We will not be including the four teams the NCAA lists as still reclassifying to the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Today at No. 88: Tennessee

Coach: Derek Dooley (11-14, third season; 28-34 overall, sixth season)

2011 record: 6-7 (2-6 in SEC, tie for eighth in SEC)


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Look back: The Vols reached a new low in 2011, not only finishing 5-7 and missing out on a bowl but also losing to Kentucky. Tennessee had the nation’s longest winning streak over one opponent, 26 years, before the Wildcats’ 10-7 win. Although UT suffered key injuries to QB Tyler Bray and WR Justin Hunter, Dooley is likely to feel some pressure from Vols fans after back-to-back losing seasons.

Offensive starters lost/returning: 1/10

Defensive starters lost/returning: 3/8

Key losses: Although Tennessee had the 116th-ranked rushing offense nationally, the Vols lose RB Taurean Poole, who ranked eighth in the conference in rushing yards. On defense, DT Malik Jackson was a first-team All-SEC pick and taken in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.

Top returnees: Receiver Da’Rick Rogers ranked second in the SEC in receiving yards and is the only first-team All-SEC honoree returning for the Vols. Tennessee also returns a quartet of players who received freshman All-SEC honors a year ago.

Strengths: Bray, Hunter and Rogers gave Tennessee a strong passing game before Hunter suffered a knee injury vs. Florida. UT adds to that receiving corps with Cordarrelle Patterson, the top JuCo receiver prospect, with three other heralded freshmen.

Weaknesses: Tennessee’s running game struggled last year, but the three backs vying for the starting job combined for 197 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game. The run game might not be fixed, but it could be better than last year. The Vols ranked seventh in total defense last year but replaced the entire defensive coaching staff in the offseason.

Outlook: Tennessee lost little from a young team and Dooley hopes for improvement in his third season. With seven new assistants on staff and a favorable schedule, there’s room for the Vols to move up in the division this season.

2012 Schedule

Aug. 31 vs. N.C. State (Atlanta)

Sept. 8 vs. Georgia State

Sept. 15 vs. Florida

Sept. 22 vs. Akron

Sept. 29 at Georgia

Oct. 13 at Mississippi State

Oct. 20 vs. Alabama