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Vols to play West Virginia in Liberty Bowl

Photo Credit: Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee will play West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 at 4 p.m. ET, the football program announced Sunday evening.

“I’m thrilled about our football program’s opportunity to compete in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl against a great opponent like West Virginia,” Tennessee Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer said in a press release. “First, it’s an opportunity to connect with our many fans throughout West Tennessee and expand upon the rich historical links between the Memphis area and UT. We have so much Tennessee family in and around Memphis—especially our medical school and fantastic alumni. And secondly, it’s a tremendous development opportunity for our team and should serve as a primer to spring practice for Coach Pruitt and our returners.

“We all know Memphis loves the Tennessee Vols, and it’s an important stronghold for all of our athletic and academic programs.”

The Vols finished the season 3-7 following Saturday’s loss to No. 5 Texas A&M, losing seven of the final eight games after beginning the season 2-0. Tennessee is eligible for a bowl game despite its record because the NCAA eliminated a win requirement prior to the season due to the uncertainty of the season in regards to COVID-19.

West Virginia finished the regular season 5-4 in head coach Neal Brown’s second season in Morgantown. The Mountaineers finish the Big 12 season 4-4 after losing their final game 42-6 to Iowa State.

“We look forward to the opportunity of playing a bowl game in our home state,” Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said in the same statement. “Since we returned to campus this summer, I am proud of our team in how they have navigated through the challenges presented during this unique season. They get another chance to take the field against a very good opponent in West Virginia. We know Memphis is a special place for Vol fans, and we look forward to seeing them on New Year’s Eve in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.”

The Mountaineers’ five wins were over Eastern Kentucky, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and TCU. Their losses were to Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas and Iowa State.

Tennessee’s loss to Texas A&M was the fifth home loss of the season. In the five home losses, the Vols lost by an average of 22.0 points per game.

UT struck first on a 33-yard passing touchdown from Harrison Bailey to Jacob Warren. It sparked hope that Tennessee could potentially hang around, but A&M proceeded to score on all four of its offensive possessions in the first half. A 46-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Shrout to Cedric Tillman made it a four-point game with 4:08 remaining in the second quarter, but the Aggies responded with a four-yard rushing touchdown to take a 24-13 lead into halftime.

Texas A&M pitched a shutout in the second half defensively to close out the game. The Vols didn’t score over the final 30 minutes while the Aggies scored twice to close out the 21-point win. For the game, A&M scored on six of their nine possessions. The Aggies were in the victory formation on one of the three drives it did not score.

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4 Responses

  1. Lol , they win 3 games and play in a Bowl game ? It must be the Shit Bowl. It’s fuckin ridiculous that this pathetic team is playing in a Bowl game.

  2. This is a joke that a team with this record gets a bowl bid. This should be earned, not given. I as much as anyone pulls for the Vols, but I can’t support a bowl bid after a year of poor coaching. Will be interesting to see outcome of investigations. I’m afraid that it is serious, where money has changed thru back channels
    College sports in many ways are as bad as our politicians, crooked all about the money life style.

  3. Jeremy Pruitt is NOT an effective SEC coach.. I mean, ‘You Know’. A quick assessment (along with others) – ‘When Tennessee intercepted A&M and could have cut the lead to a “touchdown”, Tennessee’s player enthusiastically runs to the sideline, stops and poses with a teammate. NEVER would a “good, EFFECTIVE Coach allow this !! He would capture that momentum with the offense and craft a plan to score a touchdown and remain focused !! Instead, that nonsense.. Just one more example of WHY He is NOT The Coach to turn this downtrodden program around.. Coach Fulmer needs to make a move..

  4. Just take a look at the second half of every Vols game this season and you tell me that Tennessee has a Head Coach that’s a threat to ANY team in the entire nation! I’ve said this for 2 years now, actually 3, but I thought, hey crazier things has happened, so I gave Pruitt the benefit of the doubt his first year. To me though, Pruitt hadn’t ever really proved himself in college football, but everyone else was just to excited to finally have a coach, they either didn’t see what I saw, or they just didn’t care… At the time! They care now though! Everywhere Pruitt went he already had the best talent and teams, so he didn’t have to do much, but somehow people refused to see that, I didn’t, but I thought, well, there’s nothing I can do about it now because Tennessee’s AD already hired him, which he should have known better than that and should have seen through all the hype, but he hired him anyway just to shut the Vol fans up! Over the last several years, I’ve said we’re becoming the team all other programs want to open up their season with. Then we pay millions to a program to open up with only to be out coached, out played and slapped in the face in a embarrassing lose, and just like every game all we hear is one excuse after the other game after game after game! So if anyone is expecting a win in this bowl game, don’t, because before Pruitt came to this program he was seen by some (I don’t know who, but not ME) as this defensive genius, and all we’ve seen from Pruitt is beat down after beat down especially in the entire second half, with no clue or answer to ANY teams that make their adjustments! They ALL have totally destroyed Tennessee’s defense while holding the offence almost scoreless all season! This is DEFINITELY a coaching problem, or should I say a lack there of because we’ve watched this SAME scenario play out almost Identical, game after game after game! If no one see a huge problem with this, it’s because they don’t want to see it, but this is 100% coaching! Any REAL head Coach that’s any good at all will take over a program and you’ll see IMMEDIATE improvements and a continuous improvement’s throughout! I have seen any such thing in this program! Matter of fact, I’ve seen just the opposite! The second half is where ALL good coaches shine, they go in to halftime knowing they’re going to come out a totally different team in the second half, an if the other team don’t adjust, they’re going to get a beating and that’s exactly what Tennessee has gotten! It’s sad, very un-Vol like and it’s totally unacceptable! This has nothing to do with the talent, I believe any decent head coach worth anything could take this team and be compatible with ANY team in the SEC, but as of the last few years when Tennessee comes up on most schools schedule’s, it’s like a gimme, or they know it’s an easy win! If you go into this bowl game expecting to win or see any kind of team identity, consistency, second half adjustments, points or big plays, or people stepping up when it counts, then don’t bother watching, your just gonna be hopelessly disappointed and, nobody cares, if, you’re a Tennessee fan. The only bright spot is maybe Georgia St. will offer Fulmer/Pruitt a cool 6 million to be THEIR opener next season, because Tenn Vols have become the team every program wants to be their opener! Tenn. has a coaching problem. If you ever expect to get back to that same once great program?? Hire an AD who understands it takes MONEY to basically buy a good and PROVEN Head Coach, if you spend the money, it will return a hundred times it’s worth, so just do it, and stop this straight downward spiral to the very bottom!

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