Tennessee is headed back to a bowl game after an exciting 7-5 regular season that exceeded many people’s expectations. With bowl game announcements coming up this weekend, every national media outlet is pumping out matchup predictions. Bowl games are mostly just about fun, television and ticket revenue, and teams getting extra practice sessions but some bowl games would undoubtedly be more meaningful for the Vols.

So, I found all the latest projections and ranked them from best to worst. Let’s take a look…

6. Yahoo – Liberty Bowl vs. West Virginia

Playing West Virginia would be cool and it would be a nice opportunity to avenge the 2018 season-opening embarrassment against WVU but… it’s the Liberty Bowl. Don’t make me go to Memphis, please. Thanks.

5. Athlon – Music City Bowl vs. Purdue

Ah yes, Vol fans would finally get to see what UT football might have looked like if Jimmy Hyams had actually been correct about his report saying that Tennessee had hired Jeff Brohm back in 2017. This would be a fine game but beating Purdue doesn’t really move the needle much and if you lose to them… well, you lost to Purdue.

4. College Football News – Music City Bowl vs. Virginia

This is an interesting matchup to be sure but similar to Purdue, you don’t get much clout from beating Virginia, especially one that just had its coach resign. Plus, Tennessee has played in the Music City Bowl so much, can we switch it up, please?

3. CBS – Music City Bowl vs. Minnesota

If the game has to be in Nashville, let’s at least get a more compelling matchup and I think Minnesota would fit that bill. It’s not the ideal game to me but Minnesota has the No. 2 defense in the Big Ten and would present a good challenge to Josh Heupel’s speedy offense. I’d be okay with this bowl bid but I think we can aim a little higher…

2. Action Network/Sporting News – Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin

Now we’re talking. Tennessee and Wisconsin both have avid, crazy fanbases that would have a blast during the pregame festivities in Tampa. This is also probably the most “prestigious” bowl matchup that Tennessee could land.

Wisconsin has one of the premier defenses in America while UT has one of the best offenses nationally and it would undoubtedly be a killer clash. But, the Badgers are very solid and it would be a seriously tough game. Wisco would likely be favored and the Big Orange could really use an eighth win for recruiting and general optics. I’m all for this game but there’s one I would like just a bit more…

1. Sports Illustrated/USA Today – Gator Bowl/Music City Bowl vs. Penn State

Give me another game against James Franklin. I am begging you. The last time UT faced off against the most smug coach in college football, the Vols lost to Vandy in the freezing cold and we have to avenge this. Beating Penn State would be a great name brand win and while Jacksonville isn’t exactly heaven on earth, getting this matchup in the Gator Bowl would at least have warm weather. And if it ends up being in Nashville, at least we know Vol fans will run the city over like they do every time Tennessee plays in the Music City Bowl. Options 1 and 2 are both awesome, in my opinion, but the satisfaction of beating James Franklin once again wins out for me here. Bring on the Nittany Lions.

Featured image via Tom Stanford / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK