Will the Vols Actually Make a Bowl Game This Year?

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    Photo By Kyle Zedaker/Tennessee Athletics

    Remember back when most of the talk around the Vols was whether or not they could even make a bowl game? Well, that’s where we are again.

    Tennessee is currently sitting at 3-4 on the season after suffering a 45-7 loss to Alabama this past weekend. That loss was the Vols’ third consecutive defeat on the year, and they’ve now lost four of their last five games.

    Not only have the Vols been losing a lot more than they’ve been winning lately, but their offense has looked woeful in the process. And now many fans are wondering if this team can even make it to a bowl game at this rate.

    ESPN’s Football Power Index attempts to predict a team’s success game-by-game. The FPI is “a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season” according to their website. ESPN also adds that their “projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule”

    And according to the FPI, the Vols will make a bowl game this season. But just barely.

    The FPI favors the Vols in three of their remaining five games this season, and snagging those three wins would give the Vols a 6-6 record at season’s end. The three teams the FPI are predicting Tennessee will beat are Southern Miss, Missouri, and Vanderbilt.

    But as of right now, the Vols are predicted to lose to Kentucky and LSU. And their match-up with Missouri is considered a toss-up.

    Here’s the chances the FPI gives the Vols of winning each of their next five games:

    Kentucky: 43.8%
    Southern Miss: 80.9%
    Missouri: 52.1%
    LSU: 30.5%
    Vanderbilt: 70.2%

    For those of you looking for the best case scenario: The FPI only gives the Vols a 4.3 percent chance of winning out and finishing this season with an 8-4 record. In fact, the FPI’s projected win/loss record for Tennessee is 5.8-6.2. That does round up to a 6-6 record, but it’s worth noting that the FPI’s projections actually have the Vols’ win total just below six for the season.

    Tennessee hasn’t missed a bowl game since the 2013 season. The conversation had finally shifted back to the Vols being in contention for the SEC East title and not just about making bowl games after the 2014 season.

    But now the focus has gone back to merely making a bowl game, and Tennessee is in jeopardy of failing to do that this season.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.