As the college football regular season gives way to conference championship Saturday, bowl projections start to take center stage.
Tennessee (7-5, 5-3) is definitely going bowling, they locked that spot up two weeks ago in a win over Missouri, but the Vols’ win over rival Vanderbilt in their regular season finale on Saturday may have all but locked up a spot in a New Year’s bowl in Florida.
The latest projections following week 14 of the college football season, however, have Tennessee playing all over the place from Memphis to Nashville to Charlotte, with Jacksonville and now Tampa as realistic possibilities.
A week ago, it seemed that beating Vanderbilt would put the Vols in the Taxslayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, but the final weekend of the regular season caused some shake ups in the SEC.
Texas A&M, who has the same record as Tennessee at 7-5, played in the Taxslayer Gator Bowl a year ago, so it’s unlikely that they would invite the Aggies back. Kentucky is also 7-5, but their 3-5 mark in league play could land them in the Liberty Bowl or Belk Bowl.
Some projections now have the Vols heading to Tampa to play in the Outback Bowl for the first time since January 2016. The Outback Bowl is normally reserved for an SEC team with a slightly better record, but with Auburn’s 48-45 win over Alabama on Saturday, the Tigers are projected to spend New Year’s Day in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl.
The conference championships on Saturday could go a long way in determining how bowl berths will shake out come selection Sunday, especially if Georgia upsets LSU in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
Here is a look at the media’s latest projections:
ESPN: Tennessee vs Minnesota - Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, 2020 (Tampa, Florida)
CBS Sports: Tennessee vs Louisville - Music City Bowl, Dec. 30, 2019 (Nashville, Tennessee)
247 Sports: Tennessee vs Indiana - Taxslayer Gator Bowl, Jan. 2, 2020 (Jacksonville, Florida)
Sporting News: Tennessee vs Iowa - Taxslayer Gator Bowl, Jan. 2, 2020 (Jacksonville, Florida)
SB Nation: Tennessee vs Pittsburgh - Belk Bowl, Dec. 31, 2019 (Charlotte, North Carolina)
College Football News: Tennessee vs Iowa State - AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31, 2019 (Memphis, Tennessee)
Noah Tayor, The Daily Beacon: Tennessee vs Minnesota - Outback Bowl, Jan. 1 2020 (Tampa, Florida)
Ryan Schumpert, The Daily Beacon: Tennessee vs Minnesota - Taxslayer Gator Bowl. Jan. 2, 2020