Despite multiple rumors and reports stating Tennessee was heading everywhere from the Liberty Bowl to the Belk Bowl, the Vols are headed to Jacksonville, Fla., on Jan. 2 to face the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) in the TaxSlayer Bowl, formerly known as the Gator Bowl. The game will be played at 3:20 p.m. ET on ESPN at Everbank Field (67,164), the home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
“The opportunity to play in the TaxSlayer Bowl represents a tremendous opportunity for our football program,” said Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones in a statement. “The chance to return to a New Year’s bowl game in Florida represents another significant step for our program, and we are excited to play against a quality opponent in Iowa. We are looking forward to the game, and I am sure that Vol Nation will be well-represented in Jacksonville on January 2.”
“Playing in a New Year’s bowl game is a tremendous reward for our coaching staff, players, alumni and fans,” added Dave Hart, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee. “I am especially pleased for our seniors. We are honored and appreciative to be invited to such a historic bowl venue.”
This is the first January bowl game for the Vols since the 2007 season, when Tennessee knocked off Wisconsin in the 2008 Outback Bowl. Tennessee is 3-2 all-time in the Gator Bowl, with its last appearance coming in 1994, a 45-23 win over Virginia Tech.
This will mark Tennessee’s 50th all-time bowl appearance – the fourth-most in the NCAA – and the third all-time meeting against the Hawkeyes, with teams splitting the two previous matchups.
Quick facts on Iowa (full analysis to come):
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz
Conference: Big 10 (West)
Record: 7-5 (4-4)
Key Big 10 Rankings:
Total offense: 6th (398.3 ypg)
Scoring offense: 7th (28.3 ppg)
Rushing offense: 9th (156.3 ypg)
Passing offense: 4th (242 ypg)
Total defense: 6th (334.5 ypg)
Scoring defense: 7th (24.0 ppg
Rushing defense: 6th (158.6 ypg)
Passing defense: 2nd (175.8 ypg)
Turnover Margin: 11th (-5)