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Pruitt: Vols are “Supposed” to be in Bowl Games

Photo by Anne Newman/RTI

Tennessee got one step closer to their goal of making a bowl game on Saturday night thanks to a 24-7 victory over No. 11 Kentucky. For head coach Jeremy Pruitt, the win over the Wildcats gave him his second SEC win and his second victory over a ranked team in his first year at the helm of UT’s program. He became the first coach since Phillip Fulmer to earn two victories over ranked teams in his first year as Tennessee’s head coach.

After the game, Pruitt was asked about his team potentially making a bowl game and only needing one more win to earn a berth to the postseason.

“The University of Tennessee is supposed to be in bowl games,” Pruitt replied. “That’s the expectation here, that’s my expectation, that’s our players’ expectations. We’re going to go out there and do a good job this week and try and put a plan together and give our kids an opportunity.”

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The Vols are now 5-5 on the season and have two games remaining in the regular season. Tennessee will face Missouri next weekend at home and then will play the following week on the road against Vanderbilt. Tennessee is trying to avoid missing out on the postseason for the second straight year, and Pruitt is trying to become the first UT head coach to make it to a bowl game in his first year as the Vols’ head coach since Derek Dooley did so in 2010.

Coming into the final month of the regular season, the Vols’ hopes of making a bowl game seemed slim. Tennessee finished off the month of October with a 27-24 loss on the road to South Carolina to fall to 3-5 on the year. The Vols needed to finish off November strong in order to have any hopes of getting to a bowl game.

So far, they’re doing just that.

“If you look at all the great teams, they always play well all year. But they kinda play their best ball towards the end. That’s when the biggest games kinda show up,” Pruitt added. “That’s one thing we want to do here in the future as a program. We want to be able to finish the season and play our best ball at the end.

“We’re 2-0 in November, and that’s a good thing.”

Historically, Tennessee’s football program has thrived in the month of November. UT has played 474 games in the month of November, and they’ve won 324 of those contests counting Tennessee’s two wins this year. That’s the best winning percentage of any month for Tennessee in the main three months of the regular season (September, October, November).

Pruitt wants to make November a month to remember for Vol fans once again. Under Butch Jones and Derek Dooley, the Vols went just 20-12 in the month of November. Tennessee has had just four Novembers over the last eight years in which they finished the month with a winning record in the month.

Right now, Pruitt has the Vols 2-0 in November with two games remaining. And he and his staff also have the Vols a win away from getting back to postseason play.

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