Just getting to a bowl game this season was an accomplishment for Tennessee, especially when you consider that the Vols were sitting there at 2-6 coming out of October.
They had to win their last four games to get to .500 and qualify for a bowl. The extra practice time is invaluable for such a young team, and the prestige of playing in the postseason isn't lost on anybody in Big Orange Country.
Playing so close to home will be neat, too. Tennessee takes on North Carolina on Dec. 30 in Nashville in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
But first-year coach Derek Dooley wants to make one thing clear: The Vols aren't satisfied just to be a part of the bowl festivities. It's a bowl trip, but still a business trip and will very likely set the tone for this offseason.
"The bowls can be a great thing or they also can be not so good," Dooley said. "If you go out there and lay an egg in the bowl game, it isn’t good for the program. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen. I’m not into the, 'We go and it’s a celebration deal.' I mean, we have a game. We’re going to go try to win the game just like they’re going to try to do. So that’s how we’re going to approach it.”
The Vols (6-6) can obviously finish with a winning record if they take care of the Tar Heels (7-5). It's also one last chance to lock in a win against a team with a winning record. Going into the bowl season, Tennessee doesn't own a win against an FBS team that currently has a winning record.