Tennessee Headed To Music City Bowl

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    Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

    Tennessee is heading to the mid state to play in the Transperfect Music City Bowl against Purdue. Its the Vols’ first time in the Nashville bowl game since 2016 when Tennessee defeated Nebraska, 38-24.

    The Music City Bowl kicks off at 3 p.m. ET on Dec. 30. ESPN will broadcast the game.

    The Vols went 7-5 (4-4 SEC) in Josh Heupel’s first season as head coach, out performing preseason expectations. Tennessee’s five losses came to two playoff teams, ACC Champions Pittsburgh, 10-2 Ole Miss and 6-6 Florida.

    “We are excited about finishing this first season in our home state in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl,” Heupel said in a statement Thursday. “It’s a great opportunity for us to put the finishing touches on the positive momentum we have created over our first 11 months. I am especially thrilled for our seniors, who get one more chance to compete. Purdue is an outstanding and well-coached team. I look forward to seeing all of Vol Nation in Nashville, and I know our team has appreciated your support the entire season.”

    The season changed for Tennessee mid way through the second quarter against Pitt when Hendon Hooker replaced Joe Milton at quarterback after the Michigan transfer suffered an injury. The Vols’ offense didn’t look back from there going on to average 38.8 points per game.

    Hooker was fantastic, giving Tennessee stability at quarterback for the first time since 2016. The Virginia Tech transfer threw for 2,567 yards, 26 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The dual threat quarterback added 561 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

    “I think for Hendon, he’s a great example of a guy that comes in, buys into a culture, has some maturity, has grown into a really good football leader inside of our locker room,” Heupel said of Hooker. “But his consistency and his habits every single day. And then what we are doing offensively, being able to put him in a position, is why he’s playing at a much higher level than he previously had. I think it speaks to Hendon, and I think it speaks to what we are able to do offensively to put the quarterback in a good position to be successful.”

    CFP Champion Futures

    Purdue went 8-4 (6-3 Big 10) in Jeff Brohm’s fifth year as the Boiler Makers’ head coach including marquee wins over then-No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan State.

    The Boiler Makers lost to Notre Dame, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio State.

    Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw for 3,178 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season, but receiver David Bell was the Boiler Makers’ star. The junior caught 93 passes for 1,286 yards and six touchdowns.

    Other SEC bowl games include: Georgia vs. Michigan in the Orange Bowl, Alabama vs. Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl, Ole Miss vs. Baylor in the Sugar Bowl, Kentucky vs. Iowa in the Citrus Bowl, Arkansas vs. Penn State in the Outback Bowl and Mississippi State vs. Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl.

    Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.