We’re keeping regular tabs on the updated bowl projections for the Vols and we’ll throw in our own thoughts as the rest of the season unfolds:
ESPN (McMurphy): Music City Bowl vs. Iowa
ESPN (Schlabach): Citrus Bowl vs. Florida State
CBS: (Palm): TaxSlayer Bowl vs. North Carolina
SBNation (Kirk): Citrus Bowl vs. Florida State
RTI’s take: With Tennessee very much back in the SEC East race after Florida’s loss at Arkansas last week, there are really three paths that can play out going forward in terms of UT’s postseason destination.
The first, and also the most unlikely, is that Tennessee wins the East, wins the SEC Championship Game, and then gets the automatic bid to the Sugar Bowl.
Another scenario is that Tennessee wins out, gets the East and loses in the championship game, or UT wins out and doesn’t win the East. Either way, the Vols at 9-3 in the regular season would be a very enticing pick for the Citrus Bowl. Remember, the Citrus Bowl gets its choice of any SEC team not in the playoffs or New Year’s Six. It wants to sell tickets, so a matchup like UT vs. Florida State, which is projected by a couple of the sites and certainly has some historical significance as well, would certainly do just that.
Finally, if UT loses one or more games, it would seem likely that the Vols are headed to what’s known as the Group of Six (TaxSlayer, Outback, Belk, Music City, Texas, Liberty). The SEC ultimately places the teams in these bowls, and it’s tough to say if the Vols would be sent back to one of the Florida bowl after being there the past two years. That likely lands UT in something like the Belk or Music City Bowl in that scenario, unless the Citrus is willing to take a disappointing 8-4 (or worse) UT team.