Oddsmakers are giving Tennessee the love in 2021 Music City Bowl betting, making the Vols a -7.5 favorite over Purdue. It is a short trip for Tennessee faithful to Nissan Stadium in Nashville, but the Boilermakers have wins over then #2 Iowa and then #3 Michigan State on the season.
Purdue had some budding superstars come forefront in their 8-4 season in the Big Ten, but that unfortunately means they may be a bit shorthanded for the bowl game. WR David Bell and DE George Karlaftis are opting out of this one as their next stop is the NFL. Volunteers QB Hendon Hooker (hand) is on the injury report, but he’s expected to play.
Vols Own the Big Ten in Bowls
Tennessee is in their first bowl game with head coach Josh Heupel, but they’re also looking for their fifth straight postseason game win. Tennessee has racked up wins in the TaxSlayer (Iowa), Outback (Northwestern), Music City (Nebraska), and Gator (Indiana) over the last 7 years – all victories against Big Ten teams.
2021 Music City Bowl betting could see some points put on the board, and the 65.5 total indicates that. Purdue is going to throw the ball all over the field with an experienced QB (even without Bell) and Heupel’s offense runs 2.94 plays per minute which is tops in the country. QB Hendon Hooker had 26 TDs to just 3 INTs on the season and being off for the last month has helped his injured hand heal.
Hooker is a dual threat QB who also had 561 yards and 5 TDs rushing – one of the most underrated all-around performances in the country. Competition aside, the Vols really got the run game going in their regular season finale against Vanderbilt (45-21) with Jaylen Wright (112) and Jabari Small (103) both topping the century mark.
Too Many Absences for Purdue?
It might look like the Boilermakers are heading into hostile territory on Thursday with the Volunteers getting an in-state bowl game, but what Purdue student, alum, or fan wouldn’t want to spend the last couple days of 2021 in Nashville? There may be more Purdue backers at the Music City Bowl than expected.
While the fans may show up, we know that two All-Americans won’t be at Nissan Stadium (playing at least) with David Bell (93 catches, 1,286 yards) and George Karlaftis (4.5 sacks) focusing on NFL draft preparation and wanting to avoid injuries. Bell was obviously a big part of a Purdue offense that ranked 8th in the country with 340.5 pass yards/game, and Karlaftis brought the pressure that helped the Boilermakers ranked 21st vs. the pass (194.6 ypg).
The Boilermakers still have senior QB Aidan O’Connell who completed 73.5% of his passes this season with 23 TD to 8 INTs. He’ll miss his favorite target Bell, but Milton Wright had 732 yards and 7 TDs on the year while Jackson Anthrop had 5 TDs over the last five games of the regular season. Purdue may be just fine here.
Free 2021 Music City Bowl Betting Pick
This should be a high scoring affair, which would’ve been even more entertaining if Purdue had Bell in their lineup. In a game where the winning team could score in the 40s or 50s, a total that has jumped 7 points from its open still isn’t enough.
Tennessee 42 – Purdue 38
Free Pick: Over 65.5