INDIANA vs. TENNESSEE (1-2-20) GATOR BOWL PREVIEW!
TWO SNEAKY GOOD TEAMS FACE OFF IN THE GATOR BOWL IN NICE THURSDAY NIGHT BOWL TV SPECIAL!
VEGAS BETTING ODDS: TENNY VOLS (-2 1/2) vs. INDIANA HOOSIERS ~ TOTAL: (54 1/2)
TENNESSEE VOLS OFFENSE (#100) ~ (145 RUSH, 220 PASS) vs. INDIANA HOOSIERS DEFENSE (#36) ~ (139 RUSH, 212 PASS allowed)
INDIANA OFFENSE (#31) ~ (135 RUSH, 309 PASS) vs. TENNESSEE DEFENSE (#27) ~ (146 RUSH, 191 PASS allowed)
INDIANA (8-4) ATS — (7 “OVERS” – 4 “UNDERS”) *** TENNESSEE (6-5) ATS — (4 “OVERS” – 7 “UNDERS”)
OK folks raise your hand if you guessed Indiana had an Offense and Defense both ranked in the 30’s? Next tell the truth how many of you saw Tenny getting a Bowl bid after opening season (1-4) and talk of the Head Coach basically minutes away from being Fired? Most of the Bowls are now finished and we’ve seen some really good match ups and I have to say this is as really dead even a Match up going in as any so far this Bowl season. It’s clear both teams are very excited to be here, and both are rising type teams next season for sure.
Let’s look at Indiana first who is one of the most pleasant surprises as the past few years they’ve had a nice Offense that could score some points, but this season the Defense really skyrocketed and I must say finishing at #36 on Defense is one of the biggest shockers I’ve witnessed all season long. I really like the HC Tom Allen as he really plays a fun style and the kids seem very motivated each week. His team finished (8-4) with all 4 losses to Top 25 teams. His Offense can move the ball with lots of weapons and very capable QB (Ramsey) and they averaged 443 yards and 32.6 points per game. Not bad playing in a Big Ten with some elite loaded Defenses. The Hoosiers pass it for over 300 yards per game (308) and they will be trying to win their first Bowl game in over 3 decades. Ramsey hit 70% of his passes and 2,227 passing yards and 13 TD’s and although not a duel threat type QB like we see a lot of these days, he did rush for 6 TD’s this season and that will keep the Vols Defense honest from loading up vs. the Pass in the Red Zone. Indiana scored 50 of it’s 59 Red Zone trips, with 38 TD’s and 12 FG’s. On Defense, the Hoosiers had only 3 trips where they allowed no points in the Red Zone, but they only allowed opponents 33 trips all season long. The Defense did allow a ton of big plays though, allowing 53 plays of 20+ yards. Indiana scored over 31 points 9x and the Offense only sputtered vs. #2 Ohio State Defense and #7 Michigan Defense (10 and 14 points). The Defense did allow over 31 points 6x. The third game Indiana faced #23 Defense Penn State they did score 27 points. Now they will face a shockingly good #27 Vols Defense. Indiana had no wins over any team this year that won over 5 games.
Tennessee had it’s second year HC J. Pruitt on the ropes with a bad start winning just one of it’s first 5 games. But they rebounded with 6 wins in it’s last 7, including winning it’s last 5 games straight. One of the best turnarounds after the first month of any team. The Offense (#100) is nothing to write home about but the Defense is very under rated (#27). The QB J. Guarantano is one that reminds me of Illinois QB B. Peters, as he will drive you to drink multiple times during the game. He led the Offense to just 21 TD’s in 42 Red Zone trips. The Vols do have a big Offensive Line (all over 300 pounds) and should be able to handle Indiana’s Defensive front that is very undersized. The won’t have same advantage on Defense as Indiana OL allowed only 23 sacks all season. The Vols D could give some headaches though as they did have 30 Sacks. The Vols Offense only average 24 points a game so they rely on the Defense keeping them in game. It’s a shame that the Vols top WR J. Jennings will be forced to miss the first half leaving Guarantano only one strong weapon, WR M. Callaway, until the second half. It won’t be easy sledding as the Hoosiers have a stud CB in T. Mullen (Freshman All-American — 12 passes defended).
SOME KEYS TO GAME:
Indiana’s D is tough to run on allowing only 139 rushing yards per game meaning Vols QB Guarantano will need to have a nice passing day. Luckily for Tenny they do possess a pass attack that has put forth a ton of really big pass plays. They likely need to get 5 to have a chance to match points with Indiana.
For the Vols on Defense they have a real stud in D. Taylor (7 sacks) and a guy who makes plays all over field. The biggest key to me in this game is can Tenny Pass Defense (allows only 191) pass yards per game slow the high octane Indiana pass attack (solid 308 pass yards per game avg).
I’ve said it many times I don’t like asking teams to win a first game ever (Indiana has won Bowl games but not in 3 decades) as I’d rather see that first one come in, but this team got a good match up so a win here won’t be shocking, even though they are a small Underdog here. I like the job both Head Coaches did, and think these teams all around are dead even. In this case it will surely come down to turnovers. I fully expect both teams to play inspired and neither to lay an egg. I give edge to Indiana at QB in a big way, but the same to Vols on Defense compared to Indiana’s Defense. Both teams season will be made with a big season ending Bowl win. I expect this game gets decided by a Late FG. I think this game is very entertaining on both sides of the ball.
Enjoy this Thursday Night Bowl Special. And Happy 2020 and may all your new year Wagers be “WINNING” ones!