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Nashville is the scene for a bowl game the SEC participant should care about! The Music City Bowl gets a couple of really, really good quarterbacks to highlight it’s game this afternoon. Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker and Purdue’s Aidan O’Connell are two bright stars in the college football universe and we should be treated to some really high-level play from that spot unlike some of the other bowl participants (ahem, Virginia Tech).
Tennessee is riding all kinds of momentum into this game. They’ve won 3 of 4 to end the season. The loss in that stretch was arguably the best showing offensively a team had against Georgia’s defense (until Alabama). Most importantly, though, is they look great on offense. Knoxville has been a dumpster for good offenses over the past few coaches but Josh Heupel has them humming.
The biggest reason for this momentum and me loving them to cover (-6) is the arm and legs of quarterback Hendon Hooker. Under his leadership, Tennessee’s fast-paced attack ranks 15th nationally in total offense (459.0 ypg) and ninth in scoring offense (38.8 ppg). My man has thrown 26 touchdowns on the year to just three interceptions and been a breath of fresh air on Rocky Top.
I’ve been all over Purdue and their defense since the beginning of the season. I’d love to back them here again but the truth is, the Vols are in a better position than Purdue this afternoon because of some seriously major opt-outs. The Boilermakers will be without Dedrick Mackey, a very good cornerback and without their top defensive player and best pass rusher George Karlaftis. That last one is a BIG one because an advantage that could be had by Purdue is the pass rush. The Vols have allowed an SEC-worst 42 sacks.
The Volunteers also will be in search of their fifth bowl victory in a row against a Big Ten opponent, dating back to 2014. Iowa, Northwestern, Nebraska and Indiana.
I also am a big fan of The Volunteers’ rushing attack and how balanced they are. I’m the ground they rank 19th nationally and if their is a part of Purdue’s defense that hasn’t been as concsitently good, it’s the ground defense. They allow 142.6 rushing yards per contest which is good for 56th in the nation. That balance plus their pace (#1 in plays per minute) makes them a super dangerous offense. In fact, the Vols are 19 points from passing the 1993 team for most points in a season.
I’m all over this Vols team. Their defense has been prone to some major yardage and explosive plays at times but their offense more than makes up for it and will with a depleted Purdue defense. Vols -6.