Preview: Nebraska at Tennessee

When: 3:30 PM ET, Friday, December 30, 2016
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee


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
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
TDs Player TD
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
NEB T. Armstrong Jr. 51.4 2180 14 8
TENN J. Dobbs 63.3 2655 26 12
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
NEB T. Newby 181 864 4.8 7
TENN J. Dobbs 139 713 5.1 9
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
NEB J. Westerkamp 38 526 13.8 5
TENN J. Malone 45 852 18.9 10
TDs Player TD
NEB T. Armstrong Jr. 8
TENN A. Kamara 13

Quickchart Matchup

Nebraska Off vs  Tennessee Def
386.2 yards
460.2 yards
4.3 yards/rush
5.2 yards/rush
7 yards/attempt
7 yards/attempt
Tennessee Off vs  Nebraska Def
437.2 yards
350.8 yards
5.1 yards/rush
4.3 yards/rush
8.2 yards/attempt
6.5 yards/attempt

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

Nebraska Overall Tennessee
9-3-0 W/L 8-4-0
6-4-2 ATS 5-7-0
3-9-0 O/U 8-4-0
26.8 Pts For 36.2
22.8 Pts Against 29.2
Nebraska A/H Tennessee
2-3 W/L 6-1
3-2-0 ATS 3-4-0
2-3-0 O/U 4-3-0
16.2 Pts For 37.6
32.0 Pts Against 26.0
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