Tennessee vs. Purdue prediction, pick for the 2021 Transperfect Music City Bowl


Nashville, Tennessee, is the country music capital of the world. However, for one afternoon in December, the sound you can hear is the sweet music of thousands of college football fans descending on Nissan Stadium for the Music City Bowl. Let’s look at the current Tennessee vs. Purdue odds and make a pick and prediction for the 2021 Transperfect Music City Bowl.

Tennessee vs. Purdue betting odds and trends

  • Spread: Tennessee -4.5 (Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)
  • Total: 63.5
  • Moneyline: Tennessee -190, Purdue +160

Are you looking to increase your dollars tenfold on Tennessee? Will the Boilermakers make or break your bank account this bowl season? If you’re looking to make a little money predicting the future, it’s worth considering the past before you lay down your hard-earned cash.

DraftKings making Tennessee a favorite for this Music City Bowl matchup is good news for the Volunteers. Despite Purdue proving a giant-killing underdog twice this season — three if you count the win over Nebraska — Tennessee has won every game they’ve been favored in this season.

Additionally, 73.2% of college football games this season have been won by the favorite.

Although Purdue has generally performed better than Tennessee against the spread (ATS), there’s reason to favor the Volunteers here, too. Tennessee is 4-2 ATS when they’re the favorite. Meanwhile, Purdue is 3-3 when they’re an underdog. Furthermore, of Tennessee’s seven wins this season, six have been by more than the 4.5-point spread offered by DraftKings.

It’s college football bowl season, so hammer the over, right? Tennessee’s free-flowing offense under Josh Heupel would certainly suggest so. The Volunteers have hit the over nine times this season. Seven of those games have surpassed the 63.5 over/under of this Tennessee vs. Purdue matchup. However, it’s worth exercising some caution. Purdue has hit the over only four times this season, with just two of their games surpassing today’s line.

Tennessee vs. Purdue prediction

Despite the Volunteers being the favorite for the Music City Bowl, the Boilermakers hold bragging rights from the only previous Tennessee vs. Purdue clash. The two teams met in the 1979 Bluebonnet Bowl, with Purdue surviving a fourth-quarter comeback to win 27-22. The victory gave the Boilermakers their first 10-win season in program history.

They’ve been unable to replicate a double-digit season since. However, this season has been a resounding success for the Boilermakers in many respects. After going 2-4 last season, Jeff Brohm’s team recorded their first eight-win season since 2007. They’re making their first appearance in a bowl game since 2018, a return to the Music City Bowl after losing to Auburn 63-14 in Nashville three years ago.

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There’s every reason to believe that the Boilermakers can ensure that Tennessee vs. Purdue is not as one-sided as that defeat to Auburn (a fellow SEC school). Although they’ll be missing superstar defensive lineman George Karlaftis, the Boilermakers have allowed just 20.5 points per game. They’ve also limited opposing offenses to 341.5 yards per game.

They may be missing Karlaftis, but sack leader Kydran Jenkins will cause issues for the Tennessee offense. Defensive back Cam Allen has logged an impressive 4 interceptions this season, and versatile linebacker Jalen Graham is the glue that holds the Boilermakers’ defense together. The potential 2022 NFL Draft prospect has registered 4 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 6 pass breakups this season.

Tennessee’s offense is set to make sweet music in Nashville

While the defense has been suffocating at times, Purdue’s offense has taken a significant step forward this season. Having rotated their quarterbacks during 2020, Aidan O’Connell has made the job his own this season. An underrated college passer, the senior completed 73.5% of his passes for 3,178 yards and 23 touchdowns this fall.

Although O’Connell will be without his leading receiver in David Bell, the Purdue pass-catching pipeline is strong with Jackson Anthrop and Milton Wright. They face a Tennessee defense that has allowed 27.5 points and over 400 yards per game. They’ve also lost playmaking cornerback Alontae Taylor to the 2022 NFL Draft.

However, Theo Jackson (10 pass breakups) and Jaylen McCollough (3 interceptions, 4 pass breakups) will provide a difficult test in the secondary. Explosive defensive tackle Matthew Butler is a player to watch — he’ll provide a difficult test for the Purdue offensive line. Furthermore, linebacker Jeremy Banks leads the team with 108 tackles, 9 of which were for loss. Banks will ensure there’s no easy yardage for the Boilermakers’ offense.

Tennessee should prove too offensively powerful for Purdue. Dual-threat quarterback Hendon Hooker has been one of the most exciting playmakers at the position this season. In Cedric Tillman, Senior Bowl-bound Velus Jones Jr., and JaVonta Payton, they have a trio of pass catchers that have accounted for 21 touchdowns. Heupel’s offense has the Volunteers averaging 38.8 points per game. The turnaround from 3-7 under Jeremy Pruitt last season should be completed with their second-ever win in the Music City Bowl.

Music City Bowl Prediction: Tennessee 35, Purdue 27

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