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Bowl matchup couldn’t have worked out better for Tennessee

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

The Tennessee Volunteers looked for a while that they were heading to Florida for their bowl game. That was the case, but Vol fans will be headed a little bit further south down the interstate to get there.

The Vols’ draw the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl (I still want to call it the CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl out of habit). The worst-offense-I’ve-ever-seen-in-my-life Iowa Hawkeyes. The how-in-God’s-green-earth-did-they-win-10-games Iowa Hawkeyes.

I’m not going to lie. I haven’t turned my TV to Iowa games every week this fall. But I’ve done it some, and what I’ve seen is an abomination to the game of football. The Hawkeyes rank:

  • dead last in FBS at 240 yards per game; 30 yards per game worse than next team
  • 4th-worst passing yards per game nationally at 123.2
  • 25th worst rushing yards per game nationally 117.1
  • 4th worst in points per game at 16.6

The Hawkeyes have gone north of 21 points ONCE since September!

You get it. They’re atrocious on one side of the ball while also very good defensively. And that suits me just fine for Tennessee.

The Vols will have a full month to heal up some injuries on the offensive line that have plagued the Vols the last few weeks, particularly at tackle with John Campbell, Jr. and Gerald Mincey. The team could also have a speed threat on the outside back in Dont’e Thornton, Jr., who’s been out since the Missouri game with a high-ankle sprain.

The Vols should have an improved running game with a healthier offensive line and be able to outclass the Hawkeyes with a versatile passing attack unlike any the Hawkeyes have faced this year.

In other words, it’s a matchup that’s made in heaven for the Vols.

UNC has NFL-level talent in players like WR Tez Walker. The Heels, with or without Drake Maye, would be somewhat concerning offensively. Notre Dame has a far better offense than the Hawkeyes. Either would have posed a decent threat to Tennessee’s defense.

But instead, the Vols are facing a team that can afford their offense the opportunity to go through long stretches without scoring. Not saying that will happen. I’m saying that it’s very convenient for a hot and cold offense like the Vols have been at times this year.

It’s been a challenging season for Tennessee this year, but the Vols have a golden opportunity to end it on a high note.