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Updated Bowl Projections for Vols After Bye Week

(Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

Tennessee didn’t play a game on the football field this weekend, but their odds of getting to a bowl game increased slightly because of the play of their last two opponents.

The Vols currently sit at 5-5 on the season and need just one more win to get bowl eligible. Just like last year, Tennessee has to face both Missouri and Vanderbilt to close out the season, but unlike last year, both the Tigers and Commodores are struggling down the stretch.

Missouri’s offense again failed to find traction on Saturday, falling 23-6 to No. 11 Florida at home. The Tigers’ offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in two games, and they’ve only managed one offensive touchdown in the last 12 quarters of play (all against SEC teams). Missouri is now 5-5 on the year just like Tennessee.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, followed up a 56-0 loss to Florida with a 38-14 defeat at the hands of Kentucky on Saturday. The Commodores allowed an astounding 401 rushing yards to the Wildcats, and Vanderbilt didn’t score after taking a 14-3 lead on a fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter.

After those results, not only did Tennessee’s chances of getting to six wins on the season increase slightly, but so did their odds of winning out in the regular season.

The ESPN FPI gives the Vols a 38.1 percent shot of winning both of their remaining games this season. The Football Power Index still has the Vols as a slight underdog to Missouri this upcoming weekend, favoring the Tigers by 58.8 percent. But Tennessee is given a 91.1 percent chance of beating Vanderbilt by the FPI.

Over on, the Vols have a 32.7 percent chance of finishing the season with a 7-5 record. Tennessee’s “most likely” outcome is a 6-6 mark, with a 61.8 percent likelihood of that happening. Team Rankings has Missouri favored by 66.2 percent to beat Tennessee, but those projections give the Vols a 93.6 percent shot at defeating the Commodores to close out the season.

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Should Tennessee win just one of their two remaining games, they’ll make it to a bowl game for the first time since 2016. If they get bowl eligible, where will the Vols go bowling?

ESPN predicts the Vols to play in a familiar bowl location against a familiar foe. Both Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach of ESPN project Tennessee to face-off with Iowa in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl down in Jacksonville, Florida on January 2nd. Those exact same teams played in the TaxSlayer Bowl at the end of the 2014 season, with the Vols running away with a 45-28 victory.

Not flashy enough for you? How about a Tennessee match-up with a head coach that’s spurned the Vols multiple times over the years?

Bill Bender of Sporting News predicts the Vols will take on Oklahoma State and head coach Mike Gundy in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on December 31st. The Vols and Cowboys haven’t played since 1995 (a 33-0 win for UT), but there’s plenty of history with Tennessee and Oklahoma State.

The Vols have contacted Gundy more than once about becoming the head coach at UT, but “The Mullet” has turned down Tennessee every time. This past offseason, Tennessee even reportedly showed interest in Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich to become the Vols’ next play caller after Tyson Helton accepted the head coaching position at Western Kentucky. Instead, Yurcich accepted the OC position at Ohio State, and Tennessee hired Jim Chaney away from Georgia.

Over on CBS Sports, Jerry Palm is predicting a bowl match-up for the Vols that would turn heads on the basketball court but might not catch as much attention in football.

Palm projects Tennessee to take on Louisville in the Music City Bowl in Nashville. The last time the Vols made it to a bowl game, they played Nebraska in the Music City Bowl to end the 2016 season. The Vols and Cardinals have played each other four times in football, with the last meeting coming in 1993. Tennessee is a perfect 4-0 against Louisville.

Last week on 247Sports, Tennessee was predicted to play Michigan in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. A week later, that projection hasn’t changed, as 247Sports still has the Vols and Wolverines slated to take each other on down in Jacksonville.

Regardless of where Tennessee ends up, Vol fans will likely travel exceptionally well to see UT in postseason play for the first time since 2016.

Six weeks ago, a bowl game seemed like a pipe dream for this Vol squad. Now, it’s a very real possibility.

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One Response

  1. Here we go talking bowls and we have to concentrate on winning two more games. Let just focus as fans on one game at a time. Pressure is not what we want to put on our young and only 62 scholarship players. After losing two games that we assumed we would win, that would have already have made us bowl eligible, let cheer on those kids that have really turn a potential dismal year around and are playing their hearts out. The O and D lines are playing very well and the rest of the D is looking good and comes up with ways to support out sputtering offense. I am very proud of our kids of the heart they have shown this year and hope that they can did down deep the two remaining games.

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