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Why Tennessee doesn't belong in the CFP conversation

Can Butch Jones push Tennessee into contending with the SEC's best? Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports

Everybody starts the season undefeated. But the cruel reality of college football is that only a handful of those teams have a legitimate chance of winning the 2017 College Football Playoff.

At first glance, the Tennessee Volunteers look like the definition of a CFP sleeper team. The Volunteers return 14 starters from last year's nine-win club. Tennessee also ranks 13th nationally in number of four- and five-star players signed over the past five years (64). These factors led Butch Jones' squad to a top-20 ranking in ESPN's preseason Football Power Index.

As impressive as those elements are, upon closer review it is clear that there are far too many factors working against the Volunteers for them to be a legitimate CFP sleeper contender in 2017.