Big Ten Bowl Preview: Music City Bowl

The Cornhuskers and Vols both look to redeem their seasons after high expectations were dashed during the regular season.

Nebraska and Tennessee both had high hopes coming into the season, but neither team ended their regular seasons the way they wanted.  Winning the Music City Bowl would end the season on a little bit of a high note.

Game: Music City Bowl
Teams: Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) vs. #21 Tennessee (8-4, 4-4 SEC)
Time: December 30th, 3:30 PM
Location: Nissan Stadium; Nashville, Tennessee                                                                                     TV: TV: ESPN

Nebraska arrives in this game losing three out of its last five games after starting 7-0 and having hopes of a Big Ten West division crown.

The Cornhuskers will be without a few players in this one.  First, senior wideout and the team’s leading receiver Jordan Westerkamp will miss the game due to a knee injury.  All-Big Ten safety Nathan Gerry has been deemed ineligible for the game.  Finally, quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. has been battling a hamstring injury and is listed as questionable.

The key for Nebraska will be their defensive play.  Outside of the blowouts against Ohio State and Iowa, the “Blackshirt”defense has played well all season.  They have allowed 22.8 points per game, ranking 31st in the country.  If they play well versus the Vols, it will take the pressure off the Nebraska offense, which could also find success against a vulnerable Vol defense.

Tennessee started 5-0 before losing three straight in the middle of the season, including an inexplicable loss to South Carolina.  The Vols also lost to Vanderbilt to end the season in which they had hoped to win the SEC and possibly make the college football playoff.

The biggest obstacle for Tennessee will be themselves.  How much motivation will they have to be in a bowl that is in their home state after a four-loss season?  If head coach Butch Jones doesn’t have his team motivated, it could be a long night for the Vols.

Tennessee has a high-powered offensive attack, led by dual threat quarterback Joshua Dobbs.  The Vols are averaging 36.2 points per game and nearly 440 yards per game.  Dobbs led the conference in touchdown passes with 26. So, going back to the Nebraska’s defense, they will need to get pressure on Dobbs to have a chance in this one.

The Music City Bowl should be a decent game to watch between two teams trying to salvage something after disappointing regular seasons and the bowl game itself has had some exciting games in the past.  Hopefully this year’s edition does not disappoint.