The BIG 10 vs. SEC dots the bowl landscape early on New Years. First, the Northwestern Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers meet in the Outback Bowl. Then shortly after Michigan and Florida kickoff. A full day of bowl action will be covered here, as well as that Michigan and Florida game. For the Wildcats, making the Outback Bowl is a bit of an accomplishment. I know you don’t go into a season saying let’s go to the Outback Bowl! But realistically, this is about all you can ask from Northwestern playing in the BIG 10. Keeping pace with Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan is asking a lot from them right now. Northwestern did beat Wisconsin. Nevertheless, how can you complain with a 10-2 year from the Wildcats? Major win for them. They do draw a bowl game where they have the chance to beat an SEC team. That would complete what would be quite a year for Northwestern.
The only losses Northwestern had were against Michigan and Iowa, no slouches. One of their biggest wins came all the way back in week 1, where the Wildcats knocked off the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford has gotten much better than then, but how can you discount a 10 point win for Northwestern? They finished 10-2 in a good conference but you never heard anything about them. A win over Tennessee would make people realize the Wildcats, well, maybe for an hour or two. The Volunteers had an up and down year, but they could be back on the road to being a contender in the SEC. Northwestern is probably happy to be playing on New Years, but if you were to ask Tennessee I think they are looking for more. However, they’ve shown major improvements.
In most of the losses for the Vols, they could have won all of them. The collapse against Oklahoma, going on to lose in overtime. They lost to Alabama by only 5 points, 1 point to Florida, and 4 to Arkansas. In other words, a turnover here or there and they could have been the ones with wins in those games. They finished up the season on a five game winning streak. Putting up 53 points on Vanderbilt is impressive. That is a team with no offense and a great defense. Joshua Dobbs ran a good offense for Tennessee this season, and I’m eager to see where his career takes off from here.
Northwestern Wildcats vs. Tennessee Volunteers Outback Bowl Betting Odds:
vs. Tennessee -8(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Northwestern vs. Tennessee Pick:
Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs dished out 15 touchdowns this season with 5 interceptions. Keep in mind that the highlight of his game is running the football. Dobbs had an additional 9 touchdowns which came on his legs. He finished the regular season rushing for 623 yards. By looking at these two teams records, Northwestern at 10-2 and the Volunteers 8-4, one would think the Wildcats have the edge statistically. However, the Vols are averaging 34.3 points per game, while Northwestern is scoring 20.7 points per game. The Volunteers have a full two touchdown edge there. Defensively they aren’t far off, as Northwestern is allowing 16.4 points per game, and the Vols are allowing 21.2 points.
A lot of people are looking at this game and thinking wow a whole 8 points with Northwestern? Sign me up. The public is jumping on Northwestern as they are being afforded all of those points. My problem with the Cats here is that they haven’t played a quarterback like Joshua Dobbs this season. They played against a lot of pro-style offenses, from top to bottom. The Wildcats didn’t play Ohio State this season, so they didn’t get a glimpse of their dual-threat offense. I think the SEC reins superior in this game, with Tennessee picking up a two touchdown win in the Outback Bowl.
PICK: TENNESSEE -8 (-110)