Tennessee Bowl Projection Roundup: The Battle for ‘U.T.’ in Texas?

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    Tennessee Bowl Game

    Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker led Tennessee one step closer to a bowl game with a win against Kentucky. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

    Tennessee’s win against Kentucky last Saturday night propelled the Vols one step closer to bowl eligibility. With three games remaining in the season, the Vols are sitting at five wins in total, needing only one more to become bowl eligible.

    The Vols (5-4) look to be on track for more than six wins with closing games against South Alabama and Vanderbilt after hosting No. 1 Georgia this weekend.

    With Tennessee now projecting at seven wins instead of six, it does change some of the bowl projections, but not all of them. After Tennessee’s open week, the Vols had projections for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, the Texas Bowl, the Birmingham Bowl, and the Music City Bowl.

    The most intriguing projection in this week’s rounds, arguably, would be a matchup that Tennessee fans typically crave. Vol Nation is loud and proud about Tennessee being ‘The Real UT’ over Texas, and they may have the chance to prove it.

    Currently, CBS Sports is projecting Tennessee to take on the University of Texas (4-5) in the Texas Bowl on Jan. 4, 2022.

    Tennessee and Texas have not met on the football field since the Cotton Bowl in 1969. The Longhorns do have two wins over the Vols compared to Tennessee’s one win in return, but again, those games are over 50 years old. A Tennessee and Texas matchup, between two first-year head coaches at their programs, would certainly be a sight to see.

    Tennessee Bowl Game

    VFL Peyton Manning and former Texas head coach Tom Herman.

    The other outlet that is leaning in a similar direction is Bleacher Report, which has Tennessee taking on Kansas State (6-3) in the Texas Bowl, same as last week.

    The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy and ESPN’s Mark Schlabach both have Tennessee in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, which has been a common projection throughout the year. Additionally, both analysts have Tennessee projected to face the University of North Carolina (5-4). Interestingly enough, besides the proximity intrigue, the Tar Heels rush offense is led by former Tennessee running back Ty Chandler. In his first season with North Carolina, Chandler has set a career-high in rushing yards (884), rushing touchdowns (13), and receiving yards (188) with potentially four games still to go.

    ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura also has Tennessee in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, just against a different opponent. Bonagura has Tennessee playing Miami (5-4) in the game.

    Yahoo Sports is projecting Tennessee to travel west, although, it wouldn’t be a very far drive from Knoxville. Currently, Yahoo is projecting Tennessee to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, taking on the Wisconsin Badgers.

    Lastly, Sporting News has Tennessee in a bowl game that is still likely in the recent memory of many Tennessee fans. Sporting News is projecting Tennessee to the Taxslayer Gator Bowl on New Year’s Eve. In the projection, Tennessee will be playing Wake Forest (8-1). The last time that Tennessee played in the Taxslayer Gator Bowl was under head coach Jeremy Pruitt when the Vols beat Indiana, 23-22, to close down the 2019 season.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.