For the first time in three years, the Tennessee Vols will play football after November.
The only question remaining is when, where and who they’ll play.
We won’t know for another several days which bowl game the Vols will play in, but there’s already plenty of speculation about where Tennessee will be heading after Christmas.
Here are the three bowl game possibilities I think fans should hope for (and why).
Gator Bowl vs Indiana
Reaching a bowl game is great. Winning a bowl game is even better.
Finishing the season with an 8-5 record would certainly look a lot better than finishing with a 7-6 record. The Vols definitely don’t want to diminish their strong finish to the season with a loss in their bowl game.
Playing in Florida would be great for recruiting. And playing Indiana should give the Vols a decent shot at finishing the season with a sixth straight win (a matchup with a good Minnesota team, on the other hand, would be a lot tougher).
And let’s not forget that a Tennessee-Indiana matchup would make for great A to Z Sports theater between Austin Stanley and noted Hoosier Buck Reising.
Music City Bowl vs Wake Forest
If the Vols can’t go to the Sunshine State, they might as well as stay home in Tennessee.
The Volunteers are aiming to “own the state” in every aspect. Winning over every recruit in Nashville should certainly be part of that strategy. Playing in the Music City Bowl, which the Vols won in 2016, would essentially be a home game for Tennessee. And that’s great for recruiting in Nashville.
As for Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons started the season strong, but have faltered down the stretch. Tennessee should be able to handle Wake Forest, plus the storyline of former Vols offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, who is perhaps responsible for getting Phillip Fulmer fired, facing UT as a head coach would be fun.
Belk Bowl vs Pittsburgh
This seems like an unlikely matchup. I’ve only seen one prediction for this so far (via SB Nation), but I think it would be a good bowl for the Vols — mostly because of recruiting.
If Tennessee is going to be a championship caliber team, they have to dominate in-state recruiting and they have to dominate recruiting in Charlotte and central North Carolina.
The Vols’ last trip to Charlotte (the 2018 season opener against West Virginia) didn’t go so well. Making a return trip to the Queen City with an improved team would absolutely help the Vols when it comes to recruiting.
Pittsburgh stumbled quite a bit in November, so I think this is a game the Vols would easily win.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports