The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl is the third of five bowl games being played on Friday, Dec. 30. The 3:30 p.m. game will be held at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Our 2016 Music City Bowl free pick features the Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. #21 Tennessee Volunteers. The Cornhuskers let their season slip away near the end and will try to find redemption in this bowl game. The Vols had high hopes but saw them dashed as their bid for the Sugar Bowl dissolved.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3 Overall, 6-3 Big Ten Conference) were third in the Big Ten West. They started the season with seven wins in a row, but then lost three of their last five. Losses included 23-17 to #11 Wisconsin and 62-3 to #6 Ohio State. Their final game was a loss to Iowa 40-10.
The #21 Tennessee Volunteers (8-4 Overall, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) faired fine overall, but had a mediocre SEC performance, finishing a distant second to Florida in the SEC West. The Vols took down #25 Georgia 34-31 for their fifth straight win. They then lost three straight and, overall, went three and four for their last seven.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers, who are averaging 26.8 PPG, have scored a majority of their touchdowns running. QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. (51.4 COMP%, 14 TDs, 8 INTs) is a dual threat. The team’s second most productive rusher, he’s had 113 carries for 512 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 4.5 YPA. Top running back Terrell Newby (181 ATT, 864 YDs. 4.8 AVG, 7 TDs) is a solid performer. WR Jordan Westerkamp (38 REC, 526 YDs, 13.8 AVG, 5 TDs) is the team’s top pass catcher. They’re averaging 26.6 PPG.
The Cornhuskers are allowing opponents 22.8 PPG. They’ve managed to make 25 sacks, 62 TFL, and 16 INTs. Plus, they have 41 PD, 28 QB hurries, and 3 FF. Their turnover margin is plus five. All of these numbers add up to an average defense.
#21 Tennessee Volunteers
For the Volunteers, QB Joshua Dobbs (63.3 COMP%, 26 TDs, 12 INTs) is an offensive spark. Along with 26 passing touchdowns, he has nine as a rusher. Averaging 5.1 YPA, he’s made 139 rushes for 713 total yards. Alvin Kamara is a dual threat. He’s made 96 carries for 565 yards and nine scores and caught 33 passes for 346 yards and four TDs. RB John Kelly (83 ATT, 560 YDs, 6.7 AVG, 4 TDs) offers solid rushing chops. Receiver Josh Malone (45 REC, 852 YDs, 18.9 AVG, 10 TDs) is the top pass catcher. The team is scoring 36.3 PPG.
The Tennessee defense is allowing 29.3 PPG They’ve produced 26 sacks, 93 TFL, and 11 INTs. In addition, the Vols have 36 QB hurries, 42 PD, and seven forced fumbles. Their turnover margin is at minus three.
2016 Music City Bowl Free Pick
The Tennessee offense is quite productive, but its defense is lacking. Nebraska has a more effective defense, but a less explosive offense. Our 2016 Music City Bowl free pick is Tennessee at -7.0 and the over at 56.5.
The 2016 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl kicks off on Dec. 30 at 3:30 p.m. ET. It will be played at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN. You can watch the game on ESPN.