Tennessee will head to the land of palm trees and sunshine in December for the second consecutive bowl season.
Sources close to InsideTennessee confirmed a report by ESPN Sunday that the No. 23 Vols have received a bid to play No. 13 Northwestern (10-2, 6-2) in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, marking the second consecutive Florida bowl destination for Tennessee. The game will be played Jan. 1 at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and is set to kick off at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Thist marks the third time since Outback Steakhouse was signed as the title sponsor on April 12, 1995 that Tennessee has participated in the Outback Bowl. Formerly known as the Hall of Fame Bowl, the Vols last played in the Outback Bowl in 2008, beating Wisconsin 21-17. Tennessee dropped a 20-10 decision to Penn State in the 2007 version of the bowl game and beat Boston College in the 1993 Hall of Fame Bowl. The Outback Bowl is in a pool of six potential bowl destinations controlled by the SEC.
The post-season berth marks Tennessee's 51st bowl appearance in school history, good for sixth in the NCAA. Tennessee is bowling in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2009-10 and the program's 26-24 all-time bowl record ranks seventh in college football.
The game will be just the second time Tennessee and Northwestern have faced one another on the gridiron. In the only matchup between the two schools, the No. 9 Vols bested the No. 11 Wildcats, 48-28, in the 1997 Citrus Bowl. Northwestern brings a 10-2 record into the contest, and both teams finished the season on five-game win streaks.