Citrus Bowl drew 6.8 million viewers

Published 10:21 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024

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No. 21 Tennessee’s dominant 35-0 shutout victory over Big Ten West champion No. 17 Iowa in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl drew 6.8 million viewers on ABC on New Year’s Day.

The Volunteers’ first bowl shutout since a 3-0 1957 Gator Bowl win against Texas A&M was the most watched bowl game outside of the New Year’s Six by 2.2 million viewers. It also was the most watched Citrus Bowl since the 2020 edition featuring Alabama versus Michigan (14 million).

True freshman quarterback Nico Iamaleava’s first career start drew 2.2 million more viewers than the Fiesta Bowl featuring Oregon versus Liberty (4.6 million) in that same time slot on New Year’s Day.

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It’s the third straight bowl game under Josh Heupel that the Vols have scored over 5.5 million viewers. In his first season, Tennessee’s 2021 Music City Bowl matchup against Purdue tallied 5.6 million viewers, while the 2022 Orange Bowl triumph over Clemson drew 8.6 million viewers on ESPN.

Four of the Vols’ games during the 2023 season logged over five million viewers, including contests vs. Florida (5.3 million), Alabama (8.0 million) and Georgia (5.7 million). Dating back to Heupel’s first season in 2021, a total of 10 UT games have featured a viewership of over five million.

The 2023 Vols finished with a 9-4 record as Heupel joined Phillip Fulmer and Bill Battle as the only coaches in school history to lead UT to bowl berths in each of their first three seasons.

Tennessee has won 20 games under Heupel since the start of the 2022 campaign, making it the program’s winningest two-year span since claiming 20 victories from 2003-04.

Most Watched Bowl Games Outside of New Year’s Six 

• 6.8m – Citrus Bowl: Tennessee vs. Iowa (ABC)

• 4.6m – Reliaquest Bowl: LSU vs. Wisconsin (ESPN2)

• 4.3m – PopTarts Bowl: NC State vs. Kansas State (ESPN)

• 3.9m – Alamo Bowl: Arizona vs. Oklahoma (ESPN)

• 3.8m – Duke’s Mayo Bowl: North Carolina vs. West Virginia (ESPN)

• 3.6m – Liberty Bowl: Memphis vs. Iowa State (ESPN)

• 3.5m – Holiday Bowl: USC vs. Louisville (FOX)

• 3.4m – Gator Bowl: Kentucky vs. Clemson (ESPN)

• 3.3m – Sun Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Oregon State (CBS)

Top-Five Most Watched Tennessee Games Of Heupel Era (Since 2021)

• 13.1m – at Georgia, 2022 (CBS)

• 11.6m – vs. Alabama, 2022 (CBS)

• 8.6m – vs. Clemson, 2022 Orange Bowl (ESPN)

• 8.0m – at Alabama, 2023 (CBS)

• 6.8m – vs. Iowa, 2024 Citrus Bowl (ABC)