College Football
Preview
Nebraska vs Tennessee
When: 3:30 PM ET, Friday, December 30, 2016
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee



FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL STORYLINES

1. Nebraska and Tennessee once seemed poised to return to prominence in 2016, only to watch their seasons wrap up Dec. 30 at the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn. after league play took its toll. The 21st-ranked Cornhuskers reeled off seven straight wins before a 59-point beating at Ohio State served as one of two blowout losses during their 2-3 finish. The Volunteers opened 5-0, but a three-game skid in mid-October led to a lackluster 3-4 end to their season.

2. Quarterbacks Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Joshua Dobbs are set to play their final games after record-breaking careers, although the former may not be able to hold up his end of the deal. Armstrong owns the Cornhuskers' all-time passing (8,871) and total-yardage (10,690) marks, but he reportedly suffered a setback in the left hamstring he injured late in a Nov. 12 win over Minnesota and appears unlikely to go. Dobbs, who holds the Volunteers' single-season rushing mark for a quarterback, leads the SEC in touchdown passes (26), passer efficiency (152.6) and points responsible for (216).

3. While the Cornhuskers made significant strides in 2016 on defense (31st in scoring defense and 21st in total defense this year after 75th- and 64th-place finishes, respectively, in 2015), the Volunteers boast the most impactful player on that side of the ball. All-American junior defensive end Derek Barnett is tied for sixth in the nation with an SEC-high 12 sacks, while his 18 tackles for loss lead the league and rank 16th nationally. He is also tied with Vols legend Reggie White for the most sacks in school history (32).

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Tennessee -3.

ABOUT NEBRASKA (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten): With Armstrong trending in the wrong direction, coach Mike Riley is working under the belief that fellow senior Ryker Fyfe will make his third career start; the former walk-on threw for 220 yards and a score in a win against Maryland in his only previous 2016 start on Nov. 19. Leading receiver Jordan Westerkamp suffered a torn meniscus in practice on Dec. 14 and has been ruled out, leaving senior Brandon Reilly (17 catches for 314 yards) to start in his place in the slot. Safety Nate Gerry needs one interception to match Dana Stephenson's school career mark of 14 - the same number of tackles he requires to tie Mike Brown's program record for career tackles by a defensive back (287).

ABOUT TENNESSEE (8-4, 4-4 SEC): The Volunteers averaged 50.2 points over their final four games (3-1) and Dobbs had a hand in 15 of the 27 touchdowns scored while piling up 1,362 total yards (including 393 yards on the ground) over that same span. Junior Josh Malone is easily the team's biggest offensive threat after Dobbs, ranking second in the conference with 10 receiving touchdowns and 18.9 yards per catch. Barnett accumulated all 12 of his sacks during conference play and became the first Tennessee defensive lineman to earn first-team all-conference coaches' honors since Robert Ayers in 2008, but he is one of the few bright spots for a unit that ended the regular season ranked 109th in FBS in total defense and 73rd in scoring defense.



PREDICTION: Tennessee 38, Nebraska 31
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Nebraska 9-3 L1 26.8 22.8 7-0 2-3 1-0 0-0 6-3
Tennessee 8-4 L1 36.2 29.2 6-1 2-3 8-3 0-0 4-4
Last Meeting
Nebraska Tennessee
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
1/2/00 TENN 21 NEB 31 469 321 148 311 44 267
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Nebraska N/A
Tennessee N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Nebraska N/A
Tennessee N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Nebraska N/A
Tennessee N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
Nebraska N/A
Tennessee N/A
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Nebraska T. Armstrong Jr. 51.4 2180 14 8
Tennessee J. Dobbs 63.3 2655 26 12
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Nebraska T. Newby 181 864 4.8 7
Tennessee J. Dobbs 139 713 5.1 9
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Nebraska J. Westerkamp 38 526 13.8 5
Tennessee J. Malone 45 852 18.9 10
Touchdowns Player TD
Nebraska T. Armstrong Jr. 8
Tennessee A. Kamara 13
Quickchart Matchup
Nebraska Nebraska Off vs  Tennessee Tennessee Def
Nebraska 386.2 yards
Tennessee 460.2 yards
Nebraska 4.3 yards/rush
Tennessee 5.2 yards/rush
Nebraska 7 yards/attempt
Tennessee 7 yards/attempt
Tennessee Tennessee Off vs  Nebraska Nebraska Def
Tennessee 437.2 yards
Nebraska 350.8 yards
Tennessee 5.1 yards/rush
Nebraska 4.3 yards/rush
Tennessee 8.2 yards/attempt
Nebraska 6.5 yards/attempt