With no opportunities for another big win on the schedule, who Tennessee will face in its bowl game becomes more important. The athletic department, feeling good about our chances this week against North Texas, sent out bowl applications to season ticket holders after the Vols secured win number five against South Carolina.
As the Vols are (hopefully) looking for win number nine, here's who they are currently projected to face:
- SB Nation: Outback vs Northwestern
- Phil Steele: Texas vs Baylor
- ESPN Schlabach: Belk vs North Carolina
- ESPN McMurphy: Music City vs Penn State
- Jerry Palm: Liberty vs Kansas State
- Bleacher Report: Outback vs Northwestern
Now this is a good looking slate. You'd take the Outback Bowl regardless of opponent, and getting Penn State or a rematch with North Carolina would be a welcome sight. Phil Steele gets crazy again this week, and I like it: if the Big 12 gets only one team in the College Football Playoff & New Year's Six, the Texas Bowl would almost be guaranteed to have one of Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, or TCU. That suddenly becomes a much more attractive option for the Vols and everyone else.
|SB Nation||North Carolina||Kansas State||NC State||Northwestern||Penn State||Texas Tech|
|Phil Steele||Duke||West Virginia||Minnesota||Michigan||Pittsburgh||Baylor|
|Mark Schlabach||North Carolina||Texas Tech||Duke||Michigan||Penn State||West Virginia|
|Brett McMurphy||NC State||Arizona||Penn State||Michigan||Duke||Kansas State|
|Jerry Palm||NC State||Kansas State||Penn State||Northwestern||North Carolina||West Virginia|
|Bleacher Report||North Carolina||West Virginia||Penn State||Northwestern||Duke||Texas Tech|
There's no such thing as a likely match-up in a bowl game four weeks before the games are announced, or even one week before. But based on the table, we can say a few options appear more likely than others: North Carolina in the Belk Bowl and Penn State in the Music City Bowl would have to be considered the current favorites, both for fan response and for the odds of it actually happening. This is a very good sign.
Of course, it'll all get blown up next week I'm sure. But in the meantime we can still keep our hopes up for a great Big 12 match-up in Houston, or continued SEC chaos that makes the folks in Orlando start taking a look at the Vols.