Tennessee and Indiana are playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2016, and both just happen to be playing each other in their first postseason appearance in three years.
The Vols (7-5) and Hoosiers (8-4) will kick-off in Jacksonville on Thursday night in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. For Tennessee, it’s their first appearance in a bowl game since the 2016 Music City Bowl, a 38-24 victory over Nebraska. Indiana will be making their first appearance in a bowl game since a 26-24 loss to Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl in 2016.
The two programs have only faced off once before, and that resulted in a Tennessee victory over the Hoosiers in the Peach Bowl, 27-22, to end the 1987 season.
For the Vols, this bowl berth comes after a disastrous start to the 2019 season. Tennessee started off the year with losses to Georgia State and BYU before beating FCS opponent Chattanooga. The Vols then fell to Florida and Georgia, dropping to 1-4 on the year. But Tennessee finished out the season winning six of their final seven regular season games, with their only loss coming to Alabama. The Vols are currently riding a five-game winning streak.
Indiana, on the other hand, lost two of their final three games after starting out the season strong. Aside from a blowout loss to Ohio State and a close loss to Michigan State, the Hoosiers had things rolling heading into November, boasting a 7-2 record and sneaking into the AP Poll at No. 24 before taking on then-No. 9 Penn State. Indiana fought hard but lost 34-27 to the Nittany Lions, then they lost 39-14 the following week to Michigan. The Hoosiers ended the regular season with a double-overtime victory against Purdue on the road.
The Hoosiers have yet to beat a team that finished the 2019 season with a winning record, with all four of their losses coming against teams that finished 7-6 or better. The “best” wins Indiana owns are against a 5-7 Nebraska and a 5-7 Ball State.
Tennessee’s defense has closed out the season strong, and they’ll be tested by Indiana’s potent passing attack. The Hoosiers are in the top 15 in the country in passing, averaging over 300 yards a contest. The Vols, meanwhile, rank in the top 30 in total defense and the top 20 in passing defense.
Something has to give, and the winner of that match-up will likely win the 2020 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
Take a look at what we’re “buying and selling” about the game, and make sure you look at our score predictions for the game as well. Check out our complete opponent preview of the Indiana Hoosiers and listen to our podcast interview breaking down the Hoosiers as well.
If you can’t make it to the game, here’s how you can watch or listen to the Vols’ match-up with the Indiana Hoosiers in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
Kickoff: 7:00 Eastern, January 2nd, TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, FL)
TV: ESPN (Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Katie George)
Streaming Online: ESPN.com/Watch, ESPN app
Radio: Vol Network, XM 190, Sirius 84, XM 374
Line: Tennessee (-2.5)