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Vols defeat North Texas 24-0 despite uninspired performance

It was an ugly win, but the victory made the Vols bowl eligible with two games remaining in the 2015 season.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

In what was possibly the most sluggish and boring football game the Tennessee Volunteers have played in years, the Vols were able to achieve bowl eligibility despite themselves. The starters lacked any type of rhythm and chemistry they whole time they were in the game, but North Texas was bad enough that the Vols still held a 24-0 lead when the starters came out in the fourth quarter.

Tennessee scored on their opening offensive possession, but points were harder to come by than expected after that. The Vols managed just 24 points on the afternoon, but the defense held North Texas without a score thanks in part to the Mean Green's own inability to execute on offense. Tennessee's backups came in much later than expected, not appearing until the fourth quarter. And they did even less than the starters.

Here is what we learned from Tennessee's victory over North Texas:

This game meant nothing

While it's certainly tempting to lambaste this team for their performance on Saturday, keep in mind a few things: This game meant nothing, it was a noon kickoff, and the Vols didn't need to be on top of their game to win this one. Now, does that completely excuse the lackluster effort seen by the starters in this game? Absolutely not. But it certainly explains it.

The Vols certainly needed a win against North Texas, but their "A-game" wasn't needed to pull off the victory. The offense totaled just 409 total yards against a putrid North Texas defense, and there were no passing touchdowns in the game. Even though the defense held North Texas without a score, they didn't look on top of their game either. Even still, a shut out is always commendable, and it was Tennessee's first shut out since a 45-0 win over Austin Peay to start the 2013 season.

Tennessee didn't need its best effort to defeat North Texas. But it would've been nice to see a better one.

Injury, or wearing down?

Quarterback Josh Dobbs had one of his worst performances of his career against North Texas, but it wasn't because of a stout Mean Green defense.

Dobbs appeared out of sync all game and missed more throws than usual. He consistently missed targets and overthrew receivers on the way to a 15-of-23 performance for just 136 yards and an interception. No receiver had more than 38 yards receiving, and Dobbs looked hesitant to take risks, except on his lone interception right before halftime where Dobbs took a shot on the sideline on 4th and 1.

Hopefully this performance was more because of lack of focus from Dobbs and the offense in general. Because if Dobbs is hurt and this is what we'll see from him for the last two games, watch out.

Vols are bowl eligible

It's nice to talk about the Vols becoming bowl eligible more as an afterthought rather than a main goal, and that's precisely what it feels like today. The Vols improved to 6-4 with the win over North Texas, becoming bowl eligible with two games remaining. It's the earliest the Vols have clinched a bowl berth since 2009.

The goal every season for Tennessee should be to not only make a bowl game, but to make one worth bragging about. If the Vols can close out the season with victories, then they'll have that opportunity for the first time since 2007.