Now with just a few days until the Vols are selected to their first bowl game since 2010, the RTI team is weighing in with our final bowl thoughts – the location and the realistic matchup that we’d like to see, and our best guess for what what it actually would be.
Best location: I may be playing the homer card a little bit here for my hometown, but I think it’s Nashville and the Music City Bowl. I know Charlotte and the Belk Bowl seems to be the chic choice right now. I get it – it’s different, pretty close to Knoxville and a fantastic city. But there’s no other bowl site that’s more important to this program than Nashville in terms of planting seeds for future recruits and being near a massive chunk of the fan base, and no, I don’t think three straight games in the city is overexposure.
Best matchup: I’m all in on Penn State. There’s a lot to like about this matchup for Tennessee. For one, I think it’s very winnable for the Vols. The Nittany Lions’ (6-6) only wins this year came against UCF, Akron, Rutgers, UMass, Indiana and Temple and they lost six of their last eight games this season. That’s not to say it’d be an easy win for the Vols, PSU’s defense is strong, but I think it would be a good, though winnable, matchup for UT. And oh yeah – there’s that James Franklin guy. He’s got some history with the Vols and it’d be fun to see him back in Nashville for this one.
Best guess: I think they’ll end up in Charlotte for the Belk Bowl ultimately. That’s the most popular pick by a lot of national pundits and with the SEC having the final call for that bowl, I think the Vols will make sense there from a geographic standpoint. I see Georgia ending up in one of the Florida bowls and South Carolina likely falling out of the group of six the SEC selects. Those are the only two other teams that make a lot of geographic sense for the Belk Bowl. Hard to say who the opponent will be, but I’ll guess either NC State or Notre Dame.