Sugar bowl hopes
the big lead

Tennessee didn’t win the SEC East, but hopes of making it to the Sugar Bowl are still alive. The Vols found themselves moving up two slots to number 17 in the new College Football Playoff rankings.

The Sugar Bowl is required to take the highest ranked non-playoff SEC team. Florida, Auburn and Tennessee are now the three candidates to go bowling in New Orleans this New Year’s season. So, how will UT find its way to Bourbon Street?

Vols’ path to the Sugar Bowl

Tennessee sits at 17 in the rankings with only the game against Vanderbilt remaining. Auburn is the leader of the pack at 13, and Florida comes in at 15. Both teams are road underdogs on Rivalry Week. Auburn is a 17.5-point underdog against top ranked Alabama, and Florida is a 7-point dog at (14) Florida State.

Step 1: Tennessee must beat Vanderbilt with some style points added. The committee needs to see the UT defense actually hold a rushing attack to a respectable number, unlike the combined 863 rushing yards allowed in back-to-back weeks against Kentucky and Missouri.

Step 2: Auburn needs to get the crap kicked out of it by Alabama. The Iron Bowl is the Tigers only game remaining and they need to get exposed by the best team in the country. If Bama wins by three touchdowns or more, Vol fans should feel comfortable about the committee closing the 4-spot gap between the two teams after a UT win over Vandy.

Steps 3 and 4: Florida losing to Florida State and Alabama, in the SEC title game, needs to happen. I did not expect the Gators to jump from 23 to 15 after beating LSU and clinching the SEC East title. If Florida beats a top 15 team, on the road, in Florida State they would for sure be ranked near the top 10. Florida will lose to Alabama in Atlanta. It’s just about how bad the loss will be, and about how far it will drop Florida.

Chances of it all happening?

Tennessee needs both Florida and Auburn to each have 4-losses. I honestly don’t see the committee ranking a 4-loss SEC team ahead of a 3-loss SEC team, especially when UT owns the head-to-head over Florida.

Vol fans shouldn’t be worried about Auburn beating Alabama. The game to focus on, outside of the UT-Vandy game, is Florida-Florida State.

I absolutely think they would and should. Winning your division and playing for a conference title should mean something to the committee. If the Gators beat the Seminoles, in Tallahassee, Tennessee can kiss the Sugar Bowl goodbye… What’s the Tennessee Citrus Bowl joke again?