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Tennessee football eyes a 10-win season and New Year's Six Bowl

After the Vols' hopes of making the College Football Playoff have been dashed, the team still looks to accomplish things the program hasn’t in quite some time.
Credit: AP
Tennessee coach Josh Heupel watches from the sideline during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Georgia on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee had its College Football Playoff hopes all but dashed last Saturday against South Carolina in a 63-38 loss.

While that is the case, the Vols still have plenty to play for this season.

If UT beats Vanderbilt this Saturday, they'd have a 10-win season for the first time since 2007. It would be the first time since 2003 they’d have met that 10-win mark during the regular season.

It would also put the Vols in a great position to go to a New Year’s Six Bowl, which the program hasn’t gone to since the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in 2009.

The Southeastern Conference can go to three New Year’s Six bowl games outside of the ones for the College Football Playoff.

The Orange Bowl is an Atlantic Coast Conference team going up against either a team from the SEC, Big 10 or Notre Dame. The Sugar Bowl pits an SEC team against a Big 12 team. The Cotton Bowl features two at-large teams.

A look at the latest College Football Playoff rankings gives a better look at which teams could go where.

Assuming top-ranked Georgia makes the College Football Playoff, LSU and Alabama are ranked higher than Tennessee. LSU is No. 5, Alabama is No. 7 and Tennessee is No. 10.

If those were the final standings, the Vols would likely be looking at the Cotton Bowl as an at-large selection if they beat Vanderbilt. LSU and Alabama would go to the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl.

However, it is likely LSU will be ranked below Tennessee by the time conference championships wrap up. They still have to play Georgia in the SEC Championship. A loss would drop them to three losses on the season and one of those would have come to Tennessee.

It is possible after UT's loss to South Carolina that they could miss out on a New Year’s Six Bowl, even as a 10-2 team. It likely won't happen.

It would almost lock UT in a New Year’s Six Bowl if LSU or Alabama loses to close out the season so that the Vols would jump them as long as they beat Vanderbilt.

That game against Vanderbilt is on Saturday on the road. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.


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