It seems unlikely that the Tennessee Vols will play in a bowl game in 2021.

For starters, the program is coming off a 3-7 season that included a 27 point loss to the Kentucky Wildcats.

On top of the on-field play, there are also the looming NCAA sanctions that Tennessee is facing, due to the recruiting violations that occurred under previous head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

At some point, the Vols will likely announce some self-imposed penalties. It’s highly likely that a bowl ban of at least one year will be included in those penalties.

However, all of that is still up in the air. So until Tennessee is facing a bowl ban, the expectation is that the program’s goal is to reach a bowl game.

And 247Sports believes that’s what will end up happening.

Brad Crawford of 247Sports recently made some early bowl projections and he has the Vols playing TCU in the Liberty Bowl.

“Tennessee’s schedule is slightly more advantageous than the gauntlet first-year coach Bryan Harsin and Auburn is facing this season, thus the Vols sneak into one of the SEC’s mid-tier bowls here,” writes Crawford.

The Liberty Bowl typically features teams that have reached seven or eight wins. If the Vols win seven or eight games in Josh Heupel’s first season, UT fans should be ecstatic. That would be an incredible job by Heupel and his staff.

Heupel inherited a tough situation at Tennessee. But he’s made some key improvements over the last couple of months, thanks to his utilization of the transfer portal.

The future is still murky on Rocky Top, but there’s certainly reason for optimism under Heupel moving forward.

Featured image via USA Today-Randy Sartin