Taking place in Nashville, the Tennessee Volunteers will have themselves a pseudo-home game against the Purdue Boilermakers.
Finishing 8-4, the Boilermakers had some solid wins this season against Michigan State and Iowa. Meanwhile, in a tougher SEC, the Volunteers managed to top Kentucky and came within seven of the Pittsburgh Panthers. However, both teams finished the year unranked.
Who will leave this game as Music City champions? Let’s dive in.
All NCAAF gameday odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. All odds and lines are accurate as of 12:30 p.m. ET on December 30, 2021. All statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Purdue vs Tennessee Prediction
While Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker may be less of a threat when compared to SEC competition, he should be viewed as a major one against Purdue.
This season, Purdue faced C.J. Stroud once and let up 59 points. However, Hooker will go up against EDGE George Karlaftis, who will likely be a top-15 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
On the season, Hooker has 26 touchdowns to just three interceptions, though he does have nine turnover-worthy plays.
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This will be a true test for the Purdue secondary and also an opportunity for Karlaftis to shine against SEC competition.
It should also not come as a surprise to see Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell play well either, as he has thrown three or more touchdowns in four straight games. The Volunteers have the edge here being in Tennessee, but I believe the Boilermakers will keep it quite close.
Music City Bowl Prediction: Tennessee 35, Purdue 33
Music City Bowl Game Best Bets
Best Bet: Purdue +7.5 (-110) at Caesars
Throwing the ball 65 percent of the time, O’Connell and the Boilermakers have the offense to put up the points. The coverage unit is middling at best, but they have some players — including Karlaftis — that should be able to contain Hooker and the Volunteers enough to keep it close.
O’Connell is a more than competent passer. He should be able to shred this Tennessee defense that ranks No. 69 in the FBS.
Best Bet: Volunteers Moneyline (-270) at Caesars
Taking the Volunteers is a fine wager.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Volunteers have a 56.6 percent win probability, and Hooker’s versatility as a runner, combined with Jabari Small and Tiyon Evans out of the backfield will be enough of a threat on the ground to eventually get the best of a Boilermakers unit that ranks No. 87 in the FBS.
Best Bet: Over 65.5 (-110) at Caesars
Both offenses are going to be more than capable of putting up points against the opposing defense.
While O’Connell isn’t used to playing SEC competition, he has the tools to outdo Volunteers cornerbacks Alontae Taylor and Theo Jackson. The Volunteers aren’t exactly a top-of-the-line pass rush unit, which bodes well for O’Connell. Look for the O’Connell-David Bell connection to be there all game long.
Both teams should reach the 30s, making this our NCAAF bet of the day.