Bowl Projections: Outback becoming more likely

The Outback Bowl is Tennessee’s ceiling. New Year’s Six Bowls have been out of the question for some time, and the Citrus Bowl posted on its Twitter account on Sunday night that it has narrowed its possible choices to Ole Miss, Florida, LSU, and Georgia. 

However, more and more projections suggest that the Vols could reach that ceiling. Outback Bowl president and CEO Jim McVay said Monday the bowl would be interested in Tennessee as well as several other SEC teams, and the Vols’ stock may have risen Tuesday night when they were named the No. 25 team in the College Football Playoff. The SEC makes the final decision, though, on its representatives for its Pool of Six bowls — the Outback, TaxSlayer, Belk, Music City, Liberty and Texas.

Regardless, bowl projections for the Vols follow.

Zac Ellis of Sports Illustrated projects Tennessee to play Michigan in the Outback Bowl. 

Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy of ESPN both project Tennessee to play Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. 

Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports projects the Vols to play Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. 

CampusInsiders.com, an outlier, has Tennessee playing West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl. 

The Orlando Sentinel has Tennessee playing Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. 

Bleacher Report also has Tennessee playing West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl. 

Jerry Palm of CBS has Tennessee playing Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. 

Bill Bender of the Sporting News, who may have forgotten UT played in the TaxSlayer Bowl last year, has UT playing Pittsburgh in the TaxSlayer Bowl.