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CBS Sports projects Tennessee to play Clemson in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Oh man.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

With South Alabama and Vanderbilt left on the schedule, Tennessee has a pretty good shot to get to six wins and secure bowl eligibility. That would be a win for Josh Heupel in year one, as he’s immediately raised the bar in Knoxville.

Who might that bowl opponent be? What if it’s Clemson? That’s what the latest projection at CBS Sports says.

Clemson is finally in the midst of a down year, sitting at 4-3 on the year. They’ve dropped games to Georgia, N.C. State and Pittsburgh so far, as issues at the quarterback position have plagued Dabo Swinney’s group to this point. The Tigers have Florida State, Louisville, UConn, Wake Forest and South Carolina left.

Tennessee has an open date, then a big showdown with Kentucky next week. A win there could put the Volunteers on track for seven wins.

The Liberty Bowl selected Tennessee last season in the COVID year, but the Vols backed out due to COVID. Tennessee last appeared in the Gator Bowl after the 2019 season, where they beat Indiana.

Tennessee leads the all-time series against Clemson, 11-6. They last met back in 2004 in the Peach Bowl, where the Tigers won 27-14. Before that, you’ve got to go all the way back to 1976 to find the previous meeting.

This game would be interesting because Clemson has eaten into Tennessee’s recruiting footprint quite a bit over the last decade. Names like Trevor Lawrence, Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers stand out as the Vols have cycled through coach after coach.

Now with Josh Heupel in place and the arrow seemingly pointed up again, this would be quite the interesting spot for Tennessee to go prove itself, even with Clemson in a down year.