Tennessee Vols fans have known for a couple of weeks that a bowl game was in the cards. After Sunday’s shuffling of the college football postseason deck, the Vols faithful found out the destination was right in their backyard.
The Vols will stay in their home state, traveling to the Tennessee Titans’ own Nissan Stadium on Dec. 30 to face the Purdue Boilermakers in the Music City Bowl. It’s another Big Ten foe for the Vols, who come into the game with a four-game bowl win streak, all against Big Ten teams.
Early bowl odds from Tennessee sportsbooks suggest the Vols will round out the year with one final hard-fought victory.
Tennessee returns to the Music City Bowl
With the regular season reaching an end, the NCAA announced the season’s final College Football Playoff rankings on Sunday, revealing playoff berths for Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and Cincinnati.
The trickle-down came down for the rest of the country, as bowls and schools engaged in the annual square dance until every chair was full.
Rumored to also be in the mix for the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., the Vols ended up in Nashville instead. And to the joy of many fans, the Vols were awarded a spot in the latter. The game will mark their third Music City Bowl appearance and sixth home-state bowl game in school history.
Music City Bowl odds
Early predictions for this prestigious bowl situate Tennessee as the slight favorite, though odds could fluctuate in the coming weeks.
Tennessee’s moneyline sits at odds, while Purdue holds chance of winning.
Tennessee may walk away hometown victors here, but experts don’t expect it to be an easy win for the team.
According to sportsbooks, a single field goal could be the deciding factor in this matchup. The Vols are currently given the upper hand with a -point lead.
In addition to this being a potential nail-biter of a game, it’s also predicted to be a significantly high-scoring one.
Senior quarterback Hendon Hooker will lead the Vols into battle one final time. Hooker and his swift offensive squad secured the second-highest scoring average in team history this season, averaging 38.8 points per game while allowing 27.5 points from opponents.
Purdue, on the other hand, averaged 27.5 points, allowing only 20.5 points from opponents in 2021.
On the defensive end, Tennessee managed an impressive 94 tackles for loss during the season — positioning them with a top 10 national ranking and the second-highest total in school history. The defense also secured three regular=season touchdowns — ranking second-best in the SEC and 12th nationally.
But this time, they’ll have to fend off Purdue without the help of one of their most celebrated defensive backs. Earlier this month, CB Alontae Taylor announced he intends to skip the bowl game to instead focus on the 2022 NFL Draft.
In Taylor’s absence, the Vols risk allowing more points than their season average. This is a factor that most certainly plays into the game’s substantial -point projection.
Tennessee Vols bowl game history
Tennessee carries a vast bowl game history, boasting the seventh-most bowl victories of any NCAA team. Most recently, the Vols appeared in the 2020 Gator Bowl where they earned a 23-22 win against Indiana.
This year’s event marks Tennessee’s 54th bowl game appearance and their third Music City Bowl visit. Previously, the Vols had played three times in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
Their last Music City Bowl visit came in 2016 where they logged a 38-24 win against Nebraska. They weren’t as lucky in 2010, however, when Tennessee suffered a 30-27 loss to North Carolina in double overtime.
First-year coach Josh Heupel is only the fifth Tennessee coach in 70 years to lead the team to a bowl game in his debut year with the team.
Those other four coaches include:
- Bill Battle (1970)
- Phillip Fulmer (1993)
- Lane Kiffin (2009)
- Derek Dooley (2010)
Heupel and the team enter the 2021 Music City Bowl with a 7-5 overall season record (4-4 in the SEC).
This event marks only the second time Tennessee and Purdue will face each other in a bowl game. The first came all the way back in 1979 at the Bluebonnet Bowl, where Purdue emerged with a 27-22 victory against Johnny Majors’ team.
Purdue enters this year’s matchup holding an 8-4 season record (6-3 in the Big Ten) with fifth-year coach Jeff Brohm manning the helm.
For Purdue, wide receiver David Bell ended up on the All-Big Ten first team, while defensive lineman George Karlaftis represented the Boilermakers on the defensive first team.
Attending Nashville’s Music City Bowl in person
Those interested in attending the Music City Bowl in person can still find tickets available for purchase. All stadium parking options, however, are already sold out.
Luckily, traveling to the game via Uber or Lyft can oftentimes be the most affordable, timely option available — not to mention the least stressful!
Additionally, it’s important to stay up to date on the stadium’s current COVID-19 policy. And since cash purchases are prohibited inside the stadium, you’ll have to plan for an alternate payment method.
Attendees can further prepare for the trip by reading up on everything to know before visiting Nissan Stadium.