College | Story | 4/16/2021

Weekend Preview: Week 9

Vincent Cervino        
Photo: Jake Rucker (Tennessee Athletic Communications)
With another week in the books we have a new No. 1 team in the country as Arkansas has returned to its spot atop the rankings. The Razorbacks are coming off an impressive road series win over Ole Miss with fireworks in the Sunday game after previous No. 1 Vanderbilt scuffled in a home series loss to Georgia. The top of the rankings are beginning to solidify themselves as we head into Week 9, so let’s dive into another week of action.

The Volunteers are Here to Stay

Tennessee entered the season just outside the Top 25 rankings and after their resume thus far, find themselves as the second-ranked team in the SEC at No. 3 overall. Head coach Tony Vitello was named the Midseason Coach of the Year and for good reason as he’s got the Volunteers firing on all cylinders. Jake Rucker has been fantastic while Max Ferguson and Connor Pavolony have struggled to get going. The pitching staff has been good too, with Zach Heflin and Chad Dallas really stepping up in the absence of Jackson Leath. Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt this weekend in one of the biggest series of the week and a mighty test to see how for real the Volunteers are.

Conference USA one of the Country’s Best

Four teams in Conference USA were considered for last week’s Top 25 rankings as the top four in the conference look to be very good teams. Louisiana Tech continued their ascent up the rankings as they come in at No. 13 boasting a deep offense with some veteran arms on the pitching staff to prevent runs. Southern Miss, Charlotte, and Old Dominion are right on their tail, however, as all three teams look to be postseason contenders. Conference play started just a few weeks ago for Conference USA so they’ll all get to measure themselves against each other soon enough. The Bulldogs host Southern Miss this weekend and in two weeks Old Dominion matches up with Charlotte for eight straight games. These four, along with Florida Atlantic, make for the best top half of a mid-major conference across the country.

One-Time Transfer Rule Passes

With the announcement earlier this week about the passage of the NCAA’s one-time transfer rule, college baseball will effectively be changed allowing players an opportunity to become immediately eligible when they transfer. This is bound to have major ramifications across the sport as circumstances will undoubtedly affect each university or program differently, not to mention the effects that the rule might have on junior college programs. Personally, I’m glad to see that players will no longer get punished for finding a better situation for themselves, but regardless of personal opinion the transfer rule will have far-reaching effects, both intended and unintended.

Stanford, Arizona, and Oregon Headline Surprising Pac 12

UCLA, the previous favorite in the Pac-12 conference, has fallen out of the rankings after starting the season at No. 4. Arizona, Stanford, and Oregon appear poised to compete for the conference title after what they have done in the first half of the season. The Wildcats have some of the most talent in the conference, and all the new faces have been terrific, including Chase Silseth, Jacob Berry, and Daniel Susac. The Cardinal haven’t really lost many games and are doing so thanks to veteran arms like Brendan Beck and the emergence of Brock Jones in the lineup. Oregon might be the most surprising but they’ve already beaten Oregon State twice and have a potent lineup headlined by Aaron Zavala and Kenyon Yovan. All three are legitimate postseason contenders but we’ll obviously be watching with close eyes as the conference is more wide open than it has been in the last couple of years.

Nebraska tops in the Big Ten?

Many of the ranked preseason Big Ten teams have disappointed or scuffled in recent weeks as Ohio State has dropped out of the rankings and both Indiana and Michigan have dropped following disappointments. Nebraska enters the rankings this week at No. 25 and they’ve been the best team in the conference all year along with leading the conference rankings at this point in the season. Cade Povich has anchored the rotation while Shay Schanaman and Cam Wynne both have big stuff. Two-way star Spencer Schwellenbach might be the favorite for the John Olerud award while Max Anderson and Jaxon Hallmark have been hitting the cover off the ball. This is a legitimate and talented club and it’s a testament to coach Will Bolt who has done an absolutely terrific job since taking over in 2020.

Rank Team Opponent Location
1 Arkansas vs. Texas A&M Fayetteville, Ark.
2 Texas vs. Abilene Christian Austin, Tex.
3 Tennessee vs. No. 7 Vanderbilt Knoxville, Tenn.
4 Louisville at Virginia Charlottesville, Va.
5 East Carolina vs. UCF Greenville, N.C.
6 Mississippi State vs. No. 10 Ole Miss Starkville, Miss.
7 Vanderbilt at No. 3 Tennessee Knoxville, Tenn.
8 Texas Tech at West Virginia Morgantown, W.V.
9 South Carolina at LSU Baton Rouge, La.
10 Ole Miss at No. 6 Mississippi State Starkville, Miss.
11 Notre Dame vs. North Carolina State Notre Dame, Ind.
12 TCU vs. No. 18 Oklahoma State Fort Worth, Tex.
13 Louisiana Tech vs. Southern Miss Ruston, La.
14 Arizona at Washington State Pullman, Wash.
15 Oregon at Southern California Los Angeles, Calif.
16 Florida vs. Missouri Gainesville, Fla.
17 Stanford at Arizona State Phoenix, Ariz.
18 Oklahoma State at No. 12 TCU Fort Worth, Tex.
19 Virginia Tech vs. No. 20 Georgia Tech Blacksburg, Va.
20 Georgia Tech at No. 19 Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Va.
21 Michigan at Minnesota Minneapolis, Minn.
22 Indiana State vs. Valparaiso Terre Haute, Ind.
23 Florida State vs. Boston College Tallahassee, Fla.
24 Indiana at Northwestern Evanston, Ill.
25 Nebraska at Penn State University Park, Penn.
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