The Volunteers still may be playing a de facto home game in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on New Year's Day.
Ticket sales again are strong for a Tennessee bowl game, and though there may not be a repeat of last year's TaxSlayer Bowl, when the orange-clad droves overtook Jacksonville, it may be pretty close.
Chris Fuller, Tennessee's associate athletic director for external operations, said Friday that Tennessee quickly sold its initial ticket allotment and has requested more from the Outback Bowl in the last two weeks.
"One of the things that's changed quite a bit is how the ticket allocations work for the bowl games, certainly since we were down there the last time for the 2008 game," Fuller said in a phone interview. "The initial allocation was 8,000. We have gone back a couple of times. I think the total that we've taken and accounted for right now is 12,000."
And that's just the tickets sold through Tennessee.
Many fans have gone directly to the Outback Bowl to purchase tickets for the game against Northwestern, and Tennessee again should have a decided fan advantage at the 65,890-seat stadium, which is the home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Bucs.
Orange dominated EverBank Field last January, when the Vols took out Iowa, and Tennessee had solid fan showings in Tampa when it played in the Outback Bowl in 2007 and 2008.
Ticket prices for the game on StubHub range from $75 to $350.
According to TiqIQ.com, market price for tickets on the secondary market and third-party sites is $125. For the Outback Bowl matchup between Auburn and Wisconsin last year, the average price was $136. The average price for last season's TaxSlayer Bowl was nearly $145.
Tennessee sent out requests for bowl tickets to its donors and members of the Tennessee Fund after the Vols beat South Carolina in early November, and those fans could select which games they wanted tickets for if Tennessee ended up there.
Fuller said Tennessee used up its initial allotment just filling those requests.
"We couldn't directly take credit for a lot of the people that were Tennessee fans that got tickets to the TaxSlayer Bowl," Fuller said. "Obviously a lot more people came than bought directly from us, and I think we'll see some of that same dynamic this year.
"I think the demand has been good from Tennessee fans," he added. "One of the things that I think is part of the process is a lot of folks will explore every avenue, whether that's based on location or price. I'm sure our fans have continued to ring the phone in Tampa."
Most bowls viewed Tennessee as an attractive option because of that, and last year's showing made for an easy selling point for Tennessee's representatives. It nearly prompted the Citrus Bowl to grab the Vols to pit against Michigan, but the game in Orlando instead took Florida, and that game quickly sold out.
According to attendance figures compiled by CBS Sports on Friday, Tennessee finished fifth nationally in attendance as the Vols averaged more than 100,000 for its home games for the first time since 2008, Phillip Fulmer's final season as coach.
Meanwhile, Northwestern averaged a Big Ten-low 33,366 fans and suffered a 13.5 percent drop in attendance from 2014.
In 2012 Tennessee averaged fewer than 90,000. This season the Vols averaged 100,584 and finished behind only Michigan, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Alabama.
"All we've got to do is sort of the overhead shot of the TaxSlayer Bowl last year to demonstrate how strong and loyal our support is," Fuller said. "I think it's a huge factor in the bowl community, and our fans have continued to show unrivaled dedication. I think the bowl games are very aware of the vigor of our fan base."
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com