Tennessee shook up the college football landscape with its epic 52-49 win over Alabama on Saturday.
But one college football analyst isn't ready to declare Tennessee a legitimate national title contender yet.
On his radio show, Fox's Joel Klatt said Monday that he believes Tennessee will be remembered more like Ole Miss or Texas A&M — teams that upset Alabama but never parlayed that momentum into an SEC title — than the likes of Auburn and Georgia.
Klatt's reason is simple: the Volunteers' defense. He pointed out that Tennessee, which ranks first nationally in offense, ranks 104th in total defense and 129th out of 131 FBS teams in pass defense.
"We’ve seen this style of team over and over and over again in college football over the last few years," Klatt said. "We’ve seen Oklahoma do this under Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. We’re seeing USC try it right now. We’ve seen Ohio State try this, by the way. Great offense, not great on defense.
"Tennessee is in that vein right now. ... The bottom line is is that this team is 47th in the country in scoring defense. They are 104th in total defense. And that’s not even the worst one. They’re 129th in pass defense. Yikes! That means you’re really good, but I don’t think they’re championship quality."
To this point, Tennessee has been able to overcome its porous defense thanks largely to quarterback Hendon Hooker, who has looks like a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender.
But as Klatt points out, the Vols still have a grueling schedule ahead of them. They have to face No. 1 Georgia during the regular season and would likely have to beat either Alabama again or No. 7 Ole Miss in the SEC Championship game to reach the College Football Playoff.