Tennessee Vols Football: Don't Book Your Bowl Reservations Just Yet

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Tennessee Vols Football: Don't Book Your Bowl Reservations Just Yet
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It didn't take long. Actually, it was just 24 hours after Tennessee's 50-14 pounding of Memphis that writers everywhere began penciling the 3-6 Vols into their way-too-early bowl projections. 

I'm not quite sure which is more laughable: predicting that the Vols make a bowl game this season after beating two Conference USA teams and one FCS team, or thinking that Tyler Bray's 325-yard, five-touchdown performance against Memphis equals a Peyton Manning-like future.

Not to put a damper on the Vols first victory since September, but a win over this Memphis team, even one of the 36-point variety, is nothing to write home about. 

Sure, there was an incredible showing by a true freshman quarterback who looked "Peyton-like" at times, but there were also some bonehead penalties, overthrown receivers and dropped passes that would have meant another Vols loss against a decent team. 

Memphis might be one of the worst teams in the FBS division this season, with apologies to the New Mexico schools, of course.

In other words, if you think Tennessee will waltz into a lower-tier bowl after going 6-6 by beating three teams who would likely defeat that same Memphis team by as much as Tennessee did, you probably haven't watched much Vols football this fall. 

This Tennessee team is still seriously flawed. It is still tremendously undermanned and terribly young. It still hasn't won an SEC game. As a matter of fact, Tennessee has scored more than two offensive touchdowns in just one of its five SEC games so far. 

Granted, the Vols have faced, for the most part, the cream of the SEC crop up to this point. Only one SEC team, Georgia, was unranked when the Vols came calling. Three of the other four conference teams were ranked in the top 10 for their matchups with Tennessee. 

Tennessee's next opponent is certainly not a top 10 or even top 50 caliber team for that matter, but Ole Miss definitely presents a much bigger obstacle than Memphis, UAB or UT-Martin ever did. 

The Rebels (or Black Bears) are 4-5 with losses to FCS top-10 opponent, Jacksonville State, and SEC cellar-dweller, Vanderbilt. 

Ole Miss is marginal at best. Tennessee would love to be marginal at this point. 

Maybe this Tennessee team has gotten better despite the multiple thrashings at the hands of Alabama, Georgia and Oregon. Maybe this Tennessee team will step up to the challenge, dispatch this meager Ole Miss team and really give fans a reason to start planning their New Year's Eve-Eve celebrations around a Music City Bowl berth. 

But until Tennessee proves it can beat a team from outside of Conference USA or the FCS, forgive me if I don't make plans for a big orange New Year's just yet. 

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