The University of Tennessee Volunteers football program has had a rollercoaster season of sorts. A brutal October schedule has left us at a crossroads in our season. After beating Troy, many fans thought we could potentially win the next three and receive a bid to the Gator Bowl. However, after our heartbreaking loss Saturday to Missouri in four overtimes, it looks like our potential bowl destinations come down to two places: Nashville for the Music City Bowl or Memphis for the Liberty Bowl.
The Liberty Bowl was created in Philadelphia in 1959 but because the cold weather detracted from attendance, it was subsequently moved to Atlantic City in 1964 for one year where it was the first game played indoors. After that year, it was moved to its current site at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn., and has since become one of the oldest non-BCS bowl games. The Vols have a perfect 3-0 record at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. During the 70s and 80s, Tennessee had three narrow victories against Arkansas, Maryland, and Minnesota. Tennessee is tied for seventh-most all-time for Liberty Bowl appearances.
The younger of the two bowls, the Music City Bowl, was created in 1998 and is played at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee’s most recent Music City Bowl appearance was in 2010 when the Vols lost to the UNC Tar Heels in two overtimes. The game ended in a bizarre fashion and caused college football to create a new rule for the 2011 season. Tennessee was up 3 with time running out when the Tar Heels called a play with 17 men on the field. Time ran out as UNC quarterback T.J. Yates spiked the ball on the field; however, the announcer called the game over, both coaches shook hands at midfield, and the Vols celebrated. The officials proceeded to rule that the ball was spiked with one second left and assessed a penalty for too many men on the field. This allowed UNC to kick a field goal, tie the game, and go on to beat Tennessee 30-27 in two overtimes. The new rule now states that if a team gets a penalty that stops the clock within the final minute of a half, the opposing team can run ten seconds off the clock on top of the penalty yardage to prevent teams from actually benefitting for getting penalties.
I personally would prefer to see the Vols in the Music City Bowl only because I was so angered with the outcome back in 2010. Senior Kaitlin Houser also prefers Nashville because she believes that “more Volunteer fans will travel to the bowl game because it so close to Knoxville.” Senior Brittnie Bowers is pulling for the Liberty Bowl because she says, “Beale Street in Memphis has nightlife unparalleled in the southeast. A handful of other fans sided with the Liberty Bowl because we are undefeated in all of our bowl appearances there.
With two games left, Tennessee has to win out to be eligible for a bowl. Historically, we have had no trouble with Vandy and Kentucky. Nonetheless, Coach Dooley’s last season comments about Vandy always being a pushover have the Commodores fired up about next week’s game. Likewise, our loss to Kentucky last year, coupled with the ups and downs from this season, make no game an automatic win. If we win both, I predict we end up in the Music City Bowl.