KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee will play in its 52nd bowl game on Dec. 30, when the Vols take on No. 24/21 Nebraska in the 2016 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
The ESPN broadcast will feature Tom Hart and Andre Ware in the booth and Cole Cubelic reporting from the sidelines. Fans can also listen live on their local Vol Network affiliate with Bob Kesling, Tim Priest and Brent Hubbs in the booth and John Brice on the sidelines. ESPN Radio will also carry the game with a broadcast featuring Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks and Dawn Davenport.
Tickets for the game can be purchased online via MusicCityBowl.com/tickets.
Tennessee (8-4) and Nebraska (9-3) have played each other just twice in the combined 247 seasons of football history between the schools. The Cornhuskers defeated the Vols, 42-17, in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2, 1998. Nebraska also took a 31-21 win over UT on Jan. 2, 2000, in the Fiesta Bowl. Tennessee faces a Big Ten opponent in postseason play for the third-straight year as the Vols defeated Iowa two years ago in the TaxSlayer Bowl and Northwestern last season in the Outback Bowl.
At 8-4, the Vol shave posted their third-straight winning season under head coach Butch Jones. Tennessee has averaged 36.2 points for the season and the Vols have seen their scoring output expand to 50.2 points per game over the last four games. Senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs leads the SEC in touchdown passes (26), passer efficiency (152.6) and points responsible for (216). Junior defensive end Derek Barnett leads the SEC and is tied for sixth in the nation with 12.0 sacks and his 18.0 tackles for loss lead the league and rank 15th nationally. Barnett’s 32.0 career sacks also rank second nationally and he is tied with the late great Reggie White for the most sacks in UT history.
Nebraska, which is No. 21 in the latest Amway Coaches Poll and No. 24 in the latest AP Top 25 Poll, is 9-3 and finished the regular season with the fifth-best overall record in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers have averaged 26.8 points per game and feature an outstanding offensive line that has allowed just 11 sacks on the year, which is the fewest in the Big Ten and ties for the sixth-fewest in the nation. Senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. has passed for 2,180 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions and has run for 512 yards and eight scores. On defense, Nebraska ranks second in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in interceptions with 16.
This year’s game against Nebraska will mark Tennessee’s second appearance in the Music City Bowl. The Vols previously played in the bowl in 2010, falling to North Carolina, 30-27, in double overtime.
Established in 1998, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl has transformed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day into one of the city’s busiest times of the year for tourism. Since its inception, the Bowl has produced over $268 million in direct economic impact to Nashville.
The Vols are making their 52nd bowl appearance all-time and tied with Georgia for the fourth-most among all FBS programs. Tennessee owns a 27-24 all-time record in bowl games and has won two in a row.
With a win, the Vols would claim three straight bowl victories for the first time since the 1994-96 seasons.
Nebraska is making its 53rd bowl appearance all-time. The Cornhuskers are tied with Texas for the second-most bowl game appearances and trail only Alabama (63).
Over his last four games, Dobbs has completed 69-of-86 passes (86 percent) for 969 yards with 11 touchdowns and one interception. He is 22-12 as UT’s starting quarterback. With a win, Dobbs, who earned Second Team All-SEC accolades from both the coaches and the AP, would tie Condredge Holloway (1972-74) for the fifth-most wins by a UT quarterback.
Barnett earned consensus All-America honors with All-America recognition from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Associated Press, Sporting News, the Football Writers Association of America and the American Football Coaches Association. He was also named a First Team All-SEC selection by the coaches and the AP. Barnett, who has 12.0 sacks on the year, is the only player in SEC football history to record three seasons with 10 or more sacks.
Tennessee vs. The Big Ten
Tennessee’s last game against a Big Ten team was its 45-6 win over Northwestern in last year’s Outback Bowl.
Several of UT’s games against current Big Ten teams have been in bowl games. The Vols are 11-10 against current members of the league in bowl games.
Tennessee’s Bowl History
Tennessee is 27-24 all-time in bowls and the Vols’ 27 bowl wins are tied with Texas for the sixth-most in NCAA history.
Malone Taking Flight
Junior wideout Josh Malone has caught a touchdown pass in each of the last four games, including a 27-yard score in the regular season finale vs. Vanderbilt (Nov. 26). It his second streak of four-straight games with a touchdown pass this season and he has amassed five total touchdowns in that span.
Malone has a career-high 10 receiving touchdowns this season, tied for the fifth-most in a season in school history and is the most by a Vol since Robert Meachem’s 11 in 2006.
Dobbs Moving Up The Charts
Statistically, Dobbs has put together his finest season in 2016. Dobbs put together one of his best-ever performances throwing the football at Vanderbilt, going 31-of-34 for 340 yards and two touchdowns. He opened the game by completing his first 11 passes, including one touchdown strike.
Dobbs has thrown for a touchdown in all but one game this season and has thrown for multiple scores in four straight.
Dobbs has accounted for 12 total touchdowns over the last three games of the regular season (eight passing, four rushing) and now stands alone in second place on UT’s career list for touchdowns accounted for. Dobbs has accounted for 83 TDs and trails only the great Peyton Manning (101).
This season, Dobbs has accounted for 36 of Tennessee’s 58 offensive touchdowns (26 passing, nine rushing, one receiving).
Dobbs has thrown for a career-best and SEC-leading 26 touchdowns this season.
He is responsible for 216 Tennessee points this season (26 passing TDs, 9 rushing, 1 receiving). That figure also leads the SEC and ranks 12th in FBS.
Dobbs needs just one rushing touchdown to become only the third QB in SEC history with 15 passing and 10 rushing touchdowns in multiple seasons. He had 15 passing touchdowns and 11 rushing last season. He would join Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and two-time first team All-SEC selection Dak Prescott as the only quarterbacks to accomplish the feat.
Dobbs and senior defensive back Cameron Sutton have accepted their invitations to the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
The 68th Annual Reese’s Senior Bowl is set for Jan. 28, 2017 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. Players will report on Jan. 23 for the week of practices. The practices will be televised live on ESPN2 and NFL Network while the game is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. ET kickoff on NFL Network.