Nebraska (9-3) vs Tennessee (8-4)
Two traditional powerhouse programs that have been alsorans in recent years are prepared to meet in the Music CIty Bowl. Aside from the always entertaining Big Ten vs SEC match up, Nebraska and Tennessee are two programs that might be headed in different directions. Mike Riley led the Huskers to a 9 win season in his second year, which surprised many fans and pundits alike. Meanwhile, the Volunteers continue to not be able to live up to their lofty expectations under Butch Jones.
When Tennessee Has The Ball: The Blackshirts will be busy as Tennessee has a group of exciting playmakers on offense. Joshua Dobbs and Josh Malone are a solid deep threat that is opened up by Tennessee’s complex offense. Alvin Kamara gives UT a solid ball carrier that can take over the game if Nebraska isn’t on form. As always, Joshua Dobbs’ propensity to turn the ball over will be worth watching. Kieron WIlliams leads Nebraska with 5 interceptions but the Huskers have several other players with 3 picks on the season.
When Nebraska Has The Ball: The Cornhuskers are rather pedestrian statistically and really don’t have a standout player at the skill positions. Tommie Armstrong is an effective leader of this team, despite his lack of productivity, and the offensive line is among the best on the nation. One of the best battles of the Bowl season will be the Nebraska offensive line versus Derek Barnett and company for Tennessee. Should the Vols generate pressure and make plays behind the line of scrimmage, Nebraska will be hard pressed to overcome longer down and distance situations.
Analysis: Barnett vs the Nebraska offensive line is the best matchup of this game. Joshua Dobbs vs. the Nebraska defensive backs (and his own mind) is the “B-story.” Dobbs will find a way to make enough plays to keep Tennessee alive in the game while Nebraska just doesn’t have the horses. Tennessee 37 - Nebraska 23