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This is an interesting game to try and handicap with both teams not having multiple star players taking the field — Purdue without David Bell and George Karlaftis being the two greatest losses — and that swung the point spread from Purdue being a (-2) to now getting (+4.5). It is also, essentially, a home game for Tennessee as the Music City Bowl will be decked out in creamsicle orange.
The Boilermakers found a groove later in the season after subbing in Aiden O’Connell at quarterback, replacing Jack Plummer, though it was still a pass-heavy attack that closed the year averaging nearly 350 yards per game. Without Bell that could be tested a bit, although the offense generally is throwing to a space, not throwing a man open, so it could be plug and play against a Vols defense that allowed six teams to drop 30 or more against it.
Purdue closed the year going 5-2 to make this bowl, including big wins over Michigan State and Iowa — where O’Connell passed for 536 and 375 yards, respectively — and UT will not have top cornerback Alonte Taylor.
Purdue is going to have to be on the positive side of the turnover battle to win this contest. In five games this season it was on the wrong end of multiple turnovers and went 1-4 in those games — barely beating Illinois 13-9 for its lone win in that situation. It was 6-0 in games where it won the turnover battle. Tennessee has been prone to miscues and so getting the points, versus being the fave, is a tasty place to be.