ESPN Projects Winner of Tennessee and Purdue in the Music City Bowl

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    Just before the calendar flips over to 2022, the Tennessee Volunteers and Purdue Boilermakers will travel to Nashville to meet in Nissan Stadium. The two teams will be squaring off in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl at 3:00 p.m. ET on Dec. 30.

    Both teams head into the postseason matchup with impressive resumes. Tennessee enters with a 7-5 record and the eighth-ranked scoring offense in the league. Additionally, “Vols’ head coach Josh Heupel turned in the best record of any first-year power five coach this season.

    On the flip side though, Purdue holds a record of 8-4, with two Top 4 wins under the belt. The Boilermakers took down No. 2 Iowa in October, followed by No. 3 Michigan State in November. Purdue boasts a strong passing offense, averaging about 100 more yards through than air compared to the Vols. However, Tennessee does have Purdue beat in the rushing category. The Vols are averaging about 212 yards on the ground per game against Purdue’s pedestrian 83 rushing yards per game.

    As a part of the college football bowl season, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg has laid out all his bowl season picks, including the Music City Bowl.

    Rittenberg is projecting a victory for Tennessee over Purdue by a score of 37-26.

    Purdue Football

    The Tennessee Volunteers will take on Purdue in the 2021 Music City Bowl. Photo via @MusicCityBowl on Twitter.

    Along with his projection, Rittenberg did give some analysis on his pick in the game.

    “This is a tough draw for Purdue, which will face a road-like atmosphere in Nashville,” Rittenberg said in the ESPN article. “Tennessee went only 7-5, but first-year coach Josh Heupel energized the offense and the fan base. Then again, Purdue won’t be intimidated after recording two wins against teams ranked in the top four in Iowa (road) and Michigan State (home). Quarterbacks Hendon Hooker (Tennessee) and Aidan O’Connell (Purdue) both are capable of putting up big numbers.”

    In addition, Rittenberg also spoke about a situation that could certainly change the course of the game in either direction. Purdue wide receiver David Bell and defensive lineman Georgia Karlaftis have both declared for the NFL draft, however, their playing status for the bowl game is still up in the air. Last week, Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor also declared for the NFL draft, although, he did also say that he would forego the Tennessee bowl game in an effort to get his body healthy for the Senior Bowl.

    “The key for Purdue is whether NFL-bound stars David Bell and George Karlaftis will play,” Rittenberg continued on to say. “If both opt-out, it’s hard to see the Boilers keeping pace with Hooker, wide receiver Cedric Tillman and the Vols.”

    Again, Rittenberg is projecting a victory for Tennessee in the Music City Bowl over Purdue, 37-26.

    Feel free to leave your Music City Bowl score projection in the comment section below!

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.