With a season-ending trip to Lexington, a 10-win season is all but certain for Tennessee.
Its postseason travel plans remain anything but.
Hovering in the top 10, the Volunteers are flirting with BCS at-large bid, but would need a lot of help to get there.
The same holds true for UT's SEC Championship hopes. Most of the Big Orange nation will have its eyes on Atlanta this weekend as Georgia faces Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets are a strong 6-5 team, with impressive wins over Auburn, N.C. State and Maryland, but they also got blown out by Clemson and Duke (yes, that one).
So while a trip to Atlanta isn't entirely out of the question, the Vols should probably start looking at hotel reservations in Florida.
If the favored teams win the remainder of the season, Tennessee is likely to land a bid for the Outback Bowl (Tampa) or the Citrus Bowl (Orlando) against a Big Ten foe.
But as has been the case most of the season, the favored teams don't seem to be winning.
Since No. 6 Texas lost to unranked Arkansas in the fourth week of the season, an Associated Press top 10 team has lost 27 times - that's an average of two teams falling per week.
In the 11 weeks following the Longhorns' loss, at least two top 10 teams have fallen eight times, three have lost five times and four teams have lost three times.
That's a lot of numbers, but it boils down to one of two things: Parody seems to have reached an all-time high in college football or No. 1 Oklahoma is just so good no one wants to play them.
For the Vols to reach the BCS, the string of two top 10 teams falling must continue.
The most likely candidate is the Longhorns. Just one spot ahead of the Vols in this week's AP poll, Texas seems to be a better candidate to receive an at-large bid, so a Friday loss at rival Texas A&M would cement Tennessee's chances at a BCS bid.
But the more helpful victim to the upset bug would be the Bulldogs. A loss by Georgia would send the Vols to Atlanta with a chance to ruin LSU's national title hopes or a chance at the Rose Bowl.
With a Bulldog loss, destiny would be playing boggle with the 2001 Tigers-Vols SEC title game.
It was UT that was close to playing for a national crown in the Rose Bowl against Miami that year. But the Bayou Bengals sent the Vols packing for Orlando and the bowl formerly known as Citrus.
This season, some of the same factors are floating around. If LSU fails to surpass Southern Cal in the BCS standings, a trip to Pasadena or the Fiesta Bowl seems likely.
A win over the Tigers would could send the Vols to the Rose Bowl to face Michigan, and end LSU's Sugar Bowl hopes.
The contrast between this season and 2001 seems almost too circumstantial, but nothing is certain so far. The Volunteers could still get to the title game, lose to LSU and go to the Cotton Bowl.
Who knows? Tennessee could also lose to Kentucky and play in the Peach Bowl or win and still play in the Peach Bowl.
Or the Trojans, Bulldogs and Longhorns could all lose and a statistical miracle could send the Vols to the national title game - this if an SEC title game win over LSU would give UT enough boost to top Michigan in the BCS.
You're probably right, but this season has been just that. So if you've never been to Southern California or the Arizona desert, root for the Jackets and wave an Aggie towel.
And if you just want to see the Vols win another game in Florida, just make the three-hour trip to UK and help impress the bowl scouts on hand.
In the end, no one knows just yet. It's what UT coach Phillip Fulmer has been saying all season long.
"I've learned just to let it (BCS) take care of itself," Fulmer said following Saturday's win over Vanderbilt. "We only have control over what we do as a football team."
He's almost right - the BCS will take care of itself.
But it's other teams that control what the Vols will do this postseason.
- Glenn LaFollette is a senior in broadcasting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anything possible this year
Published: Tue Nov 25, 2003 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:39 p.m.