KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Despite entering 2022 with growing expectations after a bowl appearance in 2021, the Tennessee Volunteers were ranked outside the top 25 in the first USA Today coaches poll.

The USA TODAY Sports American Football Coaches Association poll is conducted weekly throughout the season and is determined by 66 head coaches at Bowl Subdivision Schools.

Each coach submits a Top 25. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, 24 for a second-place vote all the way down to 1 point for a 25th ranking. Tennessee received a total of 163 points, the third most of any team ranked outside the top 25. Houston, the 25th ranked team, received 257 points.

Head coach Josh Heupel will look to build on an encouraging first year on Rocky Top where he became one of only five Vol head coaches in the last 80 years to win seven or more games in his first season. He was awarded the 2021 FWAA Steve Spurrier First Year Coach Award alongside South Carolina coach Shane Beamer as the best coach in his first year at a school.

Tennessee recently announced they had surpassed their targeted goal of 56,000 season tickets sold for the 2022 season.

Notable voters in the poll include Alabama’s Nick Saban, Georgia’s Kirby Smart and former Tennessee coach Butch Jones.

Tennessee will kick off their season on Thursday, Sept. 1 when they host Ball State at a newly-renovated Neyland Stadium.