The Volunteers clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since 2016 on Saturday Night as Jarrett Guarantano led his team to a 24-20 road-victory over the Missouri Tigers. While the road to bowl eligibility was certainly not a smooth one after two mind-boggling losses to Georgia State and BYU, the Volunteers rallied when it mattered to win 5 out of their last 6 games and clinched bowl eligibility. In fact, the only loss the Vols suffered during that 6 game span was to Alabama, the 5th ranked team in the nation and playoff hopeful.
But now that the Vols have qualified for a Bowl, the question has shifted from “Will the Vols make a Bowl Game?,” to “Who will the Vols play in the Bowl Game?” Well, that question isn’t an easy one to answer as the Bowl Projections are changing every day, but as of right now here is where the media believes Tennessee will land.
TaxSlayer (Gator) Bowl V. Iowa Hawkeyes
We, along with 247 Sports, are projecting that the Volunteers will have a reunion with the Iowa Hawkeyes for a rematch of the 2014-15 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. While this game would not qualify as a big name match-up and some critics may go as far as to call it “boring,” it seems like a very probable, and even likely, match-up. As for how the game itself would go, you could expect it to have the same result as the match-up went in 2014, Iowa just does not have the talent necessary to compete with the speed and power of the SEC.
OutBack Bowl V. Penn State Nittany Lions
One ESPN reporter is projecting one of, if not the, most intriguing match-up for Tennessee. Not only did the OutBack Bowl seem far out of reach just a few weeks ago, so was playing an opponent like Penn State. Don’t get it twisted, Penn State is a really good football team and the fact that they could be meeting up with Tennessee in a bowl is quite frankly shocking. In order for this match-up to happen Tennessee would have to defeat Vanderbilt and get to 7 wins, and if it does, I think we’re all in for a real treat.
TaxSlayer (Gator) Bowl V. Michigan Wolverines
Another ESPN reporter is projecting an equally interesting match-up for the Volunteers against the Michigan Wolverines. It goes without saying that Tennessee is TaxSlayer Bowl material, the question here is whether the Wolverines have really fallen this low and if they have, it sets up the possibility for this extraordinary Bowl Game. The Vols and Michigan have only played one time in history (2002), in which the Vols torched the Wolverines 45-17.
Music City Bowl V. Louisville
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm is projecting the Volunteers to make the exact same Bowl Game they did the last time they had the opportunity, in 2016, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. It would be interesting as the Volunteers would likely bring a massive home crowd to see Tennessee kick-off against Louisville and would be a sight to be seen. Unfortunately for the Music City Bowl, it is looking like the Vols are a step or two above them right now. Nevertheless, they’re still a very realistic destination for Vol fans to consider.
Belk V. Pitt
This would be a very interesting Bowl Game as SB Nation is projecting the Volunteers to meet up with Pitt in the Belk Bowl, two tradition-rich programs looking to find their way back to relevance. Pitt is a decent team in the ACC and it would certainly make an interesting match-up. Additionally, since it is not a repeat game it would certainly make things more interesting.
Liberty Bowl V. Iowa State
Sporting News is also predicting an in-state match-up for Tennessee. The Liberty Bowl is a very likely destination for the Volunteers, but their opponent would be very much up for debate. Texas would be a potential opponent and their name has been thrown around quite a bit per this projection it will be Matt Cambell and the Iowa State Cyclones.
In the end, the scenarios for the Volunteers are endless and we will discuss the Bowl Game more in depth in the coming weeks, for now, Tennessee has to defeat a struggling Vanderbilt team to help them make it into a better Bowl.