HOW TO WATCH
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Watch Online: WatchESPN
Spread: Tennessee -2.5
Moneyline: Indiana + 115 | Tennessee -135
The Tennessee Volunteers are bowling once again. For the first time since 2016, the Vols are playing in a postseason game, this time under second-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt. After a 7-5 season, Pruitt’s Vols are playing in the Gator Bowl against a stingy team from the Big Ten Conference.
Tennessee will square up with the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana is seeking their first nine-win season since 1967 and only the third nine-win season in program history (1967, 1945). They have hit eight wins on the year, a feat only accomplished five times before (1905, 1979, 1987, 1988, 1993). Third-year head coach Tom Allen has done fantastic work with the Hoosiers this season, as they’ve played rather competitively throughout the entire year.
The Hoosiers eluded a disastrous end to the season with a win over the Purdue Boilermakers in Week 12. That ended a two-game skid, in which they lost to the Penn State Nittany Lions and Michigan Wolverines. That two-game losing streak was preceded by a four-game winning streak that had hopes rather high in Bloomington. Now they’ll look to make some history on Thursday night against the Vols, who are hoping to knock them off their feet.
Tennessee had a rather worrisome start to the season. They began the year 2-5 with losses to the Georgia State Panthers and BYU Cougars, among many others. But the Vols played great down the stretch. They collected six wins in their final seven games and come into this Gator Bowl winners of each of their last five games. While the SOS might not be in their favor, wins are wins and they were certainly riding very high. It’s a benefit, considering the fact that their 5-3 conference record is their best since 2015, when they also went 5-3.
The Vols are going to have to get something out of their offense if they want to win this game though. Yes, that’s stating the obvious. But the Vols’ offense is a weak unit. They have been known for the explosive passing play or two but they are otherwise incredibly skittish. Considering that Indiana’s defense has been more than serviceable, points may come at a premium.
The good news perhaps is that Indiana’s offense hasn’t been anything special either. Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix Jr. have been very solid passes in their own right, combining for 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. But with that said, Tennessee’s pass defense has been a pretty decent unit. They limit big chunk plays like few others have and they’ve built up a quality sack rate and a good rate in terms of preventing teams from finishing drives.
In other words, this one could be something of a rock fight. Neither offense is anything special and points may be at an absolute premium in this one. Whoever benefits from a few bounces going their way may wind up winning this one. In other words: See that total up there? You should probably bet the under.