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TaxSlayer (Gator) Bowl Preview
Posted: Wednesday, December 31st, 2014, 1:45 PM
by Josh
Tennessee finally returns to a bowl game Friday and it wasn't just a lower tier bowl either. The TaxSlayer (formerly Gator) Bowl is one of the more prestigious bowls and the fact that Tennessee ended up there is a testament to its hungry fanbase. And Iowa is probably the best possible opponent Tennessee could have drawn. A case could be made for Texas as well after seeing what Arkansas did to them. The Hawkeyes are not an imposing team. They aren't loaded with speed and skill players. They have some decent linemen and a decent secondary. They are a mediocre B1G team. They struggle with mobile quarterbacks. They only real advantage they have is their defensive line against Tennessee's offensive line but the speed of Dobbs should negate that. They only allow 335 yards of total offense per game but that is against a B1G schedule. Keep in mind that they lost to a 2-10 Iowa State team.

On offense, Tennessee's speed and playmakers should prove too much for the Hawkeyes. They have rarely seen the likes of Jalen Hurd, Von Pearson, and Josh Dobbs. Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin ran for 200 on them. Abdullah from Nebraska ran for 106. They struggle to contain playmakers. Iowa's defense fits what Tennessee wants to do very well. I think the Vols will have a pretty nice offensive day.

Defensively the Vols should be able to keep the game in front of them. Their offense is pretty mediocre by B1G standards. They rank 54th in passing yards and 75th in rushing yards and 70th in scoring offense. They have a decent quarterback and a solid running back but they lack playmakers. They lack speed. With a month to prepare, I don't see Iowa doing much on the speedier Vol defense.

In the end, Tennessee's speed will be too much. Tennessee wins fairly easily here. They want to be there much more than Iowa.

Tennessee 38
Iowa 20

Sugar Bowl

Alabama 35
Ohio State 14

Rose Bowl

Oregon 45
Florida State 34

National Championship

Oregon 41
Alabama 34

I am very glad that Michigan was able to land Harbaugh. It sets a precedent that other schools besides Alabama can choose their top target and go all in for him. Good for them. Michigan doesn't even have an AD and they pulled it off. Tennessee has an Alabama AD and a booger eating Florida Chancellor and they bungled their way into settling for Butch Jones. It really is a damned shame that Tennessee doesn't have better leadership. It makes me physically ill when I think about it so I'll just leave it at that.

While Tennessee has had a mediocre year, this has been a very fun year for college football as a whole. The playoff has added so much intrigue to this great sport that we all love. It is unfortunate that TCU and Baylor got left out. If TCU had made it in, I think they may have won it all. Ohio State didn't belong and Alabama is going to prove that Thursday. TCU is showing that they did belong by the way they are handling Ole Miss. The playoff really needs to be 16 teams before it is completely legit. All 10 conference champs make it in and then have 6 at large. It would be perfect. It will happen one day. Too much money is being left on the table.

It is sad to see to season end but there are many reasons for Vol fans to be excited going into 2015. Another great recruiting class is shaping up and the current players are only going to get better. Tennessee should challenge for the East next year. That is a reasonable expectation. Butch Jones isn't a great gameday coach so it's probably a long shot. I hope for Tennessee's sake that he learns and he gets better. The program really needs some stability.

I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year. By the time I write the Bowling Green Game Preview, I'll be doing so with a new baby daughter. 2015 will be a great year for my family. I hope it is a great year for all of you as well.

For those who want, you can follow me on Twitter @Joshes_Blog

Enjoy this last little bit of college football everyone. Go Vols and God Bless!

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