(WJHL) – Head coach Josh Heupel and the rest of the Tennessee Vols football team arrived in Miami, Florida on Sunday evening, as the program’s Orange Bowl preparation shifts into its final phase.

“We’re so excited to be here – our university is extremely proud to be in this great bowl game – historic, iconic bowl game,” Heupel explained just minutes after landing.

It has been since 1998 since the Big Orange have played in the Orange Bowl – a 42-17 loss at the hand of Nebraska with the legendary Peyton Manning at quarterback. Despite the long layoff between appearances, Heupel has stressed the importance of this event to the locker room.

“This is an iconic game, it’s one that you’ll remember forever,” he said. “The entire county will be watching this game on the 30th and you want to be ready to go play your best football.”

A matchup with No. 10 Clemson awaits on Friday – one of the nation’s top defenses. But, the head coach believes sticking to their identity will give them the best chance to compete and win.

“At the end of the day, I think you’ve gotta do what you do, have some wrinkles to put your kids in a position to be successful,” Heupel said. “You know, bowl game, long layoff – you’ve gotta go out and execute. Our preparation back home, and certainly this week when we’re in meetings and when we’re on the practice field, we have to do it at a really high level.”

The Capital One Orange Bowl will be played on Friday, December 30 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.