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Music City Bowl Statsy Preview

The Statsy Preview gives double shrugs but leans on the scoreboard resumes to give the nod to the Vols.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee's offense versus Nebraska's defense. Nebraska's defense appears to be good, but not elite, both versus the run and against the pass. The odd thing is that although Tennessee's offensive national statistical rankings don't suggest that it is especially potent in either the run or pass game, you sort of get the feeling that they're pretty good, don't you? So maybe the Vols will struggle to overcome defensive resistance at times or all the time against the Cornhuskers. Or maybe Josh Dobbs and John Kelly will run wild and Josh Malone and Jajuan Jennings will haul down a couple of bombs for touchdowns just for the fun of it. Who knows? Presenting . . . the 2016 Tennessee Volunteers! Exciting!

Tennessee's defense versus Nebraska's offense. On the other side of the ball, the stats seem to suggest that Nebraska's okay at running the ball but not particularly effective in the passing game, and that will only be exacerbated if their quarterback can't go. But wait! The Vols can sort of have some success on defense at limiting the total amount of passing yards but can't seem to stop anyone day-tripping to the end zone with the ball in their hands. Maybe Tennessee's defense reached the absolute bottom of the barrel in November, ran out of the proverbial gas, and simply had nothing much more resistant than paper, Elmer's, and hope the last few games of the regular season. Maybe they've re-filled the barrel and topped off the tank and are once again ready to tackle the . . . well, ready to tackle. Or maybe November shined a spotlight on an issue that takes longer than a few bowl practices to fix. Who knows? It's thrilling!

In the red zone and on the scoreboard. If you were going to point at something that wasn't broken from the Vols' back third of the season, you'd probably settle on the offense's ability to score points. There was a slight hiccup in the Vandy game, but Tennessee did manage to put some satisfying numbers on the scoreboard: 55 against Tennessee Tech (I know, but wait), 49 against Kentucky, 63 against Missouri, and even 34 in the aforementioned hiccup against the Commodores. So they should continue to score points. The Cornhuskers, on the other hand, haven't score more than 28 points since October 1 against Illinois. They were scoreboard-explosive against Wyoming and Fresno State in the first two games of the season, but other than that, nope. If they get over 40 points in the Music City Bowl, I won't be surprised, but the Tennessee defense will most likely be to blame, and although that could happen, I like Tennessee's scoreboard resume better than Nebraska's.

Tennessee 42, Nebraska 38.


The tables for this week are below. But as always, a quick note on strength of schedule first. The Vols hold the nation's third most-difficult schedule, while Nebraska's is ranked 68th. Here's a handy look at the relative strength of schedules, per S&P+. Wins are in green, losses are in yellow.

Vols Cornhuskers
1 (Alabama: L; 49-10)
3 (Ohio State: L; 62-3)
16 (Wisconsin L; 23-17)
19 (Texas A&M: L; 45-38)
20 (Iowa: L; 40-10)
24 (Virginia Tech: W; 45-24)
32 (App State: W; 20-13)
37 (Minnesota: W; 24-17)
42 (Florida: W; 38-28)
48 (Indiana: W; 27-22)
49 (Northwestern: W; 24-13)
59 (Kentucky: W; 49-36)
64 (Missouri: W; 63-37)
66 (Georgia: W; 34-31)
68 (Wyoming: W; 52-17)
69 (Oregon: W; 35-32)
75 (Vanderbilt: L; 45-34)
83 (Ohio: W; 28-19)
87 (Maryland: W; 28-7)
93 (South Carolina: L; 24-21)
98 (Illinois: W; 31-16)
108 (Purdue: W; 27-14)
112 (Fresno State: W; 43-10)

So basically, the Cornhuskers' 2016 regular-season win-loss record looks pretty much the same as the Vols' -- a stomping at the hands of an elite Top 3 team, close-but-no-cigar against Top 20, and taking care of business against the rest. Except, of course, that Tennessee also lost to two bad teams late that it should have easily taken care of. So if the Vols do what they are capable of, the Music City Bowl should be a good game that could go either way. But if the Vols suffer another lapse, we could be in for trouble.

Processing Tennessee vs. Nebraska.

Tennessee Nebraska Comps Result against Comps Guess
Next Worst Next Best Next Worst Next Best
Team Team Team Team
Value Value
Tennessee rushing offense vs. Nebraska rushing defense 203.2 141.0 Georgia Appalachian State Georgia Appalachian State 140
141.1 125.9 127 127
Tennessee passing offense vs. Nebraska passing defense 234.1 209.6 Kentucky South Carolina Kentucky South Carolina 190
214.5 204.3 223 161
Tennessee rushing defense vs. Nebraska rushing offense 231.7 178.2 Ohio Virginia Tech Ohio Virginia Tech 180
167.9 184.9 88 186
Tennessee passing defense vs. Nebraska passing offense 228.5 207.9 South Carolina Florida South Carolina Florida 230
198.4 215.3 167 296
Tennessee scoring offense vs. Nebraska scoring defense 36.3 22.8 Texas A&M Virginia Tech Texas A&M Virginia Tech 42
23.8 22.7 38 45
Tennessee scoring defense vs. Nebraska scoring offense 29.3 26.8 Vanderbilt Appalachian State Vanderbilt Appalachian State 35
23.5 29.2 45 13

Processing Nebraska vs. Tennessee.

Nebraska Tennessee Comps Result against Comps Guess
Next Worst Next Best Next Worst Next Best
Team Team Team Team
Value Value
Nebraska rushing offense vs. Tennessee rushing defense 178.2 231.7 Purdue Illinois Purdue Illinois 180
238.4 219.2 157 203
Nebraska passing offense vs. Tennessee passing defense 207.9 228.5 Wyoming Minnesota Wyoming Minnesota 230
249.5 228.2 412 217
Nebraska rushing defense vs. Tennessee rushing offense 141.0 203.2 Minnesota Wisconsin Minnesota Wisconsin 210
186.4 204.5 85 223
Nebraska passing defense vs. Tennessee passing offense 209.6 234.1 Wyoming Northwestern Wyoming Northwestern 230
229.1 247.7 189 251
Nebraska scoring offense vs. Tennessee scoring defense 26.8 29.3 Fresno State Maryland Fresno State Maryland 35
30.9 29.0 43 28
Nebraska scoring defense vs. Tennessee scoring offense 22.8 36.3 Wyoming Ohio State Wyoming Ohio State 40
35.9 42.7 17 62

So . . .

Tennessee rushing yards 170, passing yards 210, points 42.

Nebraska rushing yards 180, passing yards 230, points 38.