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Most Important Vol: Outback Bowl

Our writing staff makes their picks for the game's most important player.

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Will Shelton - Alvin Kamara

As InsideNU mentioned in our Northwestern Q&A, one of the biggest differences in the Wildcats' ten wins and their two losses to Michigan and Iowa was an inability to stop the run.  I also think one of the ways Tennessee can trip itself up here is in, as you know, being too conservative.  That Venn diagram finds Alvin Kamara in the middle, who can both help the Vols move the chains against the Wildcats on the ground, but also break things open with a big play in the passing game.  Having seen Tennessee bust out several new wrinkles against Iowa in the bowl game last year, I'm excited about the possibility of additional ways to use Kamara in a match-up where his speed can help Tennessee separate itself from a good Northwestern defense.

I_S -- Josh Dobbs

Against Florida, Tennessee showed they could score against a top defense. Against Missouri, Tennessee showed they could run the ball against a top defense. But in both games, the passing attack was horrendous, and that starts with Josh Dobbs. The Vols can win with running and defense, as they did agains Missouri, but if Northwestern is putting up something closer to 28 than to 8, the three-headed ground monster probably isn't going to be enough against one of the best defenses Tennessee has faced this season. Dobbs has had moments with excellent accuracy this season (the go-ahead drive against Alabama comes to mind), and if he can put a couple on target and allow Ethan Wolf, Von Pearson, or the Joshes to make some big plays, it makes the rest of the team's job that much easier.

Hunter Turner -- Corey Vereen

The Vols struggled most of the year to generate pressure from the defensive line following Curt Maggitt's untimely injury. Without a consistent second pass rusher, teams schemed to neutralize sophomore defensive end Derek Barnett, taking away one of the Tennessee's best defensive players. Late in the season, after having tried almost every player on the roster in the second defensive end spot, coordinator Jon Jancek circled back around to onetime promising pass rusher Corey Vereen. Given a second chance, Vereen provided a spark along the defensive line, playing with the same relentless intensity he had shown as a freshman.

If Vereen provides the same consistent pass rush against Northwestern in the bowl game, the Wildcats will be in trouble. Northwestern relies on the run game and a scrambling quarterback to move the chains, neither of which will be viable options if the Tennessee defensive line controls the line of scrimmage.

Chris Pendley - Trevor Daniel

Look, Northwestern is a B1G team. Up there, punting is winning. Ergo, Trevor Daniel is the key for Tennessee. FLAWLESS LOGIC VICTORY.