The Tennessee football program is currently in shambles, but Sports Illustrated believes they could bounce back and make it to a bowl game.
Sports Illustrated updated their 2019 bowl projections and no one expected to find Tennessee on their list, but they were there.
In response to that, I would say there’s still hope if S.I. believes in us still. The only issue is the Vols would be matched up against a defending national champion.
If this projection turned true, the Vols would take on the UCF Golden Knights in the Birmingham Bowl, which might be the worst bowl game the SEC is affiliated with.
I only say the Birmingham Bowl might be the worst because if you look at who the SEC team usually plays, it’s usually a Group 5 opponent where every other bowl game is against a Power 5 opponent.
Off of the top of my head, I can’t remember another bowl game the SEC is partnered with that offers a Group 5 opponent for the SEC team. With that being said, I told myself a few years ago, after getting free tickets to the Birmingham Bowl, that Tennessee should never play in this bowl.
Now, I feel that maybe Tennessee’s only option unless the Liberty Bowl is willing to bring them to Memphis. But even if that’s the case, the Birmingham Bowl is the one bowl game Tennessee is projected to go to so I guess we’ll have to take it.
Anyways, it’s doubtful Tennessee can bounce back and get to six wins. They still face Georgia and Alabama so you can add two losses there. Mississippi State is in between those two, which I think is winnable for a Brian Maurer-led Vols, but it’s still up in the air.
Then comes the final stretch of the season with South Carolina, UAB, Kentucky, Missouri, and Vanderbilt. Kentucky and Vandy are bad, like really bad, so there’s a chance Tennessee can win both of those games.
I’d say the South Carolina and UAB games are up in the air even though SC looked pretty good against Alabama. I’d put SC and Missouri in the doubtful category with the others as possible.
I do have to tip my cap to Sports Illustrated, though for believing in Tennessee up to this point. I would say there’s only a handful of people who are willing to consider Tennessee a six-win team still.
Maybe I have wishful thinking by saying Tennessee still has a chance to hit that six-win mark but if Jeremy Pruitt is our guy he’s going to have to find a way to get his team to compete and at least give us a chance to hit that mark.
In a more realistic outlook on the season, finishing 3-9 doesn’t sound too bad at the moment. I mean, it’s better than 1-11 or 2-10.