Tennessee Football Earns Top 20 Finish, No. 17 in Both Polls

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Football Earns Top 20 Finish
Photo from UT Sports

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee football has earned back-to-back top-20 finishes in the final polls as the Volunteers were No. 17 in the AFCA Coaches poll and No. 17 in the Associated Press Top 25 on Tuesday.

Tennessee (9-4) capped the season with a 35-0 Citrus Bowl blanking of Iowa, who finished No. 24 and No. 22, respectively in the final AP and Coaches polls.

The Vols were one of six Southeastern Conference teams in the final polls, joining No. 4/3 Georgia, No. 5/5 Alabama, No. 8/8 Missouri, No. 9/9 Ole Miss and No. 12/12 LSU. Tennessee was No. 21 in the final College Football Playoff rankings released on Dec. 3.

It is the 46th time in program history that the Vols have been ranked in the final AP poll. It’s also the first time since 2003-04 that they finished in the top 20 in back-to-back seasons. They will carry a streak of 29 consecutive weeks ranked in the Coaches poll into the 2024 season.

In 2022, the Vols completed an 11-2 campaign ranked No. 6 in both final polls. Head coach Josh Heupel joins John Barnhill (1941-44), Bowden Wyatt (1956-57) and Bill Battle (1970-72) as the only UT coaches to lead his teams to back-to-back top-20 finishes in the AP poll through his first full three seasons.

In seven years as a head coach, Heupel has now led his teams to a final ranking four times. His 2018 UCF team finished No. 11/12, while his 2019 squad was No. 24 in both final polls.

Heupel has guided the Vols to 20 victories over the past two seasons, making it the winningest two-year stretch for Tennessee since 2003-04. That win total is tied for third among current SEC programs during that span.

Final Associated Press Top 25
1. Michigan (61), 15-0
2. Washington, 14-1
3. Texas, 12-2
4. Georgia, 13-1
5. Alabama, 12-2
6. Florida State, 13-1
Oregon, 12-2
8. Missouri, 11-2
9. Ole Miss, 11-2
10. Ohio State, 11-2
11. Arizona, 10-3
12. LSU, 10-3
13. Penn State, 10-3
14. Notre Dame, 10-3
15. Oklahoma, 10-3
16. Oklahoma State, 10-4
17. Tennessee, 9-4
18. Kansas State, 9-4
19. Louisville, 10-4
20. Clemson, 9-4
21. NC State, 9-4
22. SMU, 11-3
23. Kansas, 9-4
24. Iowa, 10-4
25. Liberty, 13-1

Final AFCA Coaches Poll
1. Michigan (63), 15-0
2. Washington, 14-1
3. Georgia, 13-1
4. Texas, 12-2
5. Alabama, 12-2
6. Florida State, 13-1
7. Oregon, 12-2
8. Missouri, 11-2
9. Ole Miss, 11-2
10. Ohio State, 11-2
11. Arizona, 10-3
12. LSU, 10-3
13. Penn State, 10-3
14. Notre Dame, 10-3
15. Oklahoma, 10-3
16. Oklahoma State, 10-3
17. Tennessee, 10-3
18. Louisville, 10-4
19. Kansas State, 9-4
20. Clemson, 9-4
21. NC State, 9-4
22. Iowa, 10-4
23. Kansas, 9-4
24. SMU, 11-3
25. West Virginia, 9-4

All-Time Tennessee Poll Finishes
Year – Associated Press/Coaches/CFP

1936 – 17
1938 – 2
1939 – 2
1940 – 4
1941 – 18
1942 – 7
1944 – 12
1945 – 14
1946 – 7
1949 – 17
1950 – 4/3
1951 – 1/1
1952 – 8/8
1956 – 2/2
1957 – 13/16
1960 – NR/19
1965 – 7/7
1966 – NR/14
1967 – 2/2
1968 – 13/7
1969 – 15/11
1970 – 4/4
1971 – 9/9
1972 – 8/11
1973 – 19/NR
1974 – 20/15
1985 – 4/4
1987 – 14/13
1989 – 5/5
1990 – 8/7
1991 – 14/15
1992 – 12/12
1993 – 12/11
1994 – 22/18
1995 – 3/2
1996 – 9/9
1997 – 7/8
1998 – 1/1
1999 – 9/9
2001 – 4/4
2003 – 15/16
2004 – 13/15
2006 – 25/23
2007 – 12/12
2015 – 22/23
2016 – 22/24
2022 – 6/6/6
2023 – 17/17/21

Source: UT Sports
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