Tennessee is one of three SEC front-runners that could play in the Music City Bowl, according to comments from Scott Ramsey, the Music City Bowl’s CEO and President, to The Tennessean.
Texas A&M and Georgia are the other front-runners, according to the report.
“Tennessee is hot commodity,” Ramsey told The Tennessean. “They’re on a roll and their fans are fired up. A lot of cities have interest in Tennessee, and we’re certainly one of them. With us having a prime time (6 p.m.) slot like we have with ESPN this year, a couple of the options we might have with them playing teams in the Big Ten would fit well.”
The most recent round of national projections we’ve been following at RTI unanimously had the Vols heading to Tampa to face Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.
The Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., remains in play as well. Tennessee is expected to be placed in one of the Pool of Six (Outback, TaxSlayer, Texas, Music City, Liberty, Belk) bowls that the SEC ultimately has the final say in where the teams go. The Citrus Bowl, which can pick any SEC team not in the playoffs or in a New Year’s Six Bowl, has also shown some interest in UT, though Florida might be the most natural fit there if the Gators lose to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game this weekend.
The Music City Bowl matches an SEC team with a representative from either the Big 10 or ACC. Florida State, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Penn State and Wisconsin are the teams mentioned by Ramsey in the most recent report. Virginia Tech, a team also mentioned in consideration for the Belk Bowl, is an unlikely matchup for UT with the highly-anticipated Battle at Bristol set for 2016 between the two schools.
Tennessee last appeared in the Music City Bowl in 2010 in a 30-27 overtime loss in Derek Dooley’s first season as the head coach in Knoxville. The Vols opened their 2015 season against Bowling Green at Nissan Stadium, the home of the Music City Bowl, in front of 61,323 fans.