The Vols haven’t made the postseason in two straight years, but they’re already appearing in early bowl projections for the 2019 postseason.
Sporting News has released their early bowl game projections for the 2019 season that includes all 40 bowls after the 2019 regular season comes to a close. Their projections have the Vols in a familiar bowl game playing a familiar foe in the match-up as well.
According to Sporting News, Tennessee will make it to the TaxSlayer Bowl down in Jacksonville, Florida after the 2019 regular season. Their opponent will be the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Tennessee just appeared in the TaxSlayer Bowl a few seasons ago, and they just faced off with Nebraska in a bowl game only a handful of years ago. The Vols were awarded a bid in the TaxSlayer Bowl in 2014 after going 6-6 in the regular season, and they trounced Iowa by a score of 45-28. Tennessee played Nebraska in the Music City Bowl at the end of the 2016 season and beat the Cornhuskers 38-24. That’s the last time both Tennessee and Nebraska have made it to a bowl game.
The Vols have missed out on a bowl berth each of the last two seasons after going 4-8 overall in 2017 and 5-7 last year in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season as head coach. The media members at Sporting News believe Tennessee will make enough progress in Pruitt’s second year to at least go 6-6 and earn a low-level bowl bid, however.
All in all, Sporting News has nine of Tennessee’s 12 opponents this season in a bowl game. Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, BYU, and UAB are all predicted to make bowl games in 2019 according to Sporting News.
Sporting News predicts that 12 of the 14 teams in the SEC will make it to a bowl game in 2019. The only two teams in the conference that Sporting News doesn’t have earning a berth to a bowl game are Arkansas and Missouri. The Tigers are likely absent due to the potential sanctions being levied against them by the NCAA.
Alabama is, unsurprisingly, projected to make it to the playoffs, and Sporting News has them facing off against Clemson yet again in the National Championship Game. Georgia is projected to face Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, and Florida is predicted to take on Syracuse in the Orange Bowl.
Here’s where other SEC teams are projected in the postseason by Sporting News:
LSU – Citrus Bowl
Auburn – Outback Bowl
Texas A&M – Liberty Bowl
Kentucky – Music City Bowl
Ole Miss – Belk Bowl
Mississippi State – Texas Bowl
South Carolina – Independence Bowl
Vanderbilt – Birmingham Bowl