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): Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma State
ESPN (Schlabach): Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma
CBS: (Palm): Citrus Bowl vs. Florida State
SBNation (Kirk): Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma
RTI’s take: With one week in the regular season plus championship week remaining, the bowl picture is beginning to look clearer for Tennessee. There are just a handful of scenarios that can play out for the Vols, and a trip to the Sugar Bowl – a New Year’s Six bowl – continues to look like a strong possibility.
It isn’t a done deal though. Tennessee must win at Vanderbilt on Saturday to even begin the conversation. Then the Vols need help from one of their biggest rivals: Alabama. Tennessee fans, as painful as it might be, need to cheer for the Tide to knock off Auburn and Florida, and preferably in convincing fashion.
No. 17 Tennessee needs to jump No. 15 Florida and No. 13 Auburn in the final CFP rankings to go to New Orleans. A win by Florida State this weekend over Florida might be a necessity as well. What Tennessee doesn’t want is a situation where Florida jumps up close to the top 10 and has a decent lead on the Vols heading into the SEC Championship Game.
In that scenario, even a loss to Alabama in Atlanta might not be enough to knock the Gators below Tennessee. How would the committee rank Tennessee and Florida, each with three losses? The Vols have the head-to-head win, but Florida won the East. It could go either way.
The Citrus Bowl remains the most likely consolation prize, though that’s not a given either. If Florida goes to the Sugar Bowl, it’d likely be Tennessee or Auburn heading to Orlando, but that’s the bowl’s decision – not something Tennessee can control.