Tennessee beats inept Nebraska defense in the Music City Bowl, 38-24
Nashville, TN – Tennessee Volunteer QB Joshua Dobbs ran for three TDs and threw for another to seal the final score in his team’s 38-24 win over Nebraska in the 2016 Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl. He ran for 118 yards and completed 23 passes of 38 for 291 yards. From my great seat at the 35-yard line in the club level of Nissan Stadium, I watched a Husker defense that missed many tackles, that had no concept of leverage containment to keep runners inside, and that couldn’t cover receivers. Despite Dobbs’ numbers through the air, his receivers dropped many catchable passes as did Nebraska’s, especially early in the game. This game was a confirmation of my feelings that though today’s players are bigger, stronger, and faster than those in years gone by, they lack basic skills, blocking and tackling technique, and football knowledge that their predecessors were superior in. Are the coaches not coaching the same way at all levels as those did in the past, or are college players in particular just looking to make the big plays to be highlighted on Sports Center to get the big bucks (a la Jadaveon Clowney of “The Hit”) as opposed to using the skills coached to be fundamentally football sound to win the game? Some of this is becoming more evident as players decide to sit out games to avoid injuries as opposed to continuing to contribute to the team that got them there. This is supposed to be “team” sport. Fantasy football be damned! It’s screwing up my favorite game! What did General Patton say about “individuality”?
Dobbs led his team to a 21-7 lead in the second period, following a scoreless first 15 minutes to start, with a 10-yard and a two-yard TD run following John Kelly’s 28-yard run down the left sideline. Nebraska scored between Dobb’s two TDs on a 38-yard pass from Ryker Fyfe to Brandon Reilly (4 catches for 98 yards and two TDs). The last Vol drive covered 75 yards on nine plays in 1:27 with nine seconds left in the half.
In the third, Aaron Medley’s FG of 46 yards seemed to surprise several UT fans nearby who were critical of his kickoffs that resulted in numerous out of bounds penalties allowing the other team to start from the 35. Medley had done this twice already today. Before the third period expired, Reilly would make his second TD reception to cut Tennessee’s lead, 24-14.
In the last period, Dobbs broke out of the pocket at the Husker nine with several defenders trying to arm tackle him before he bolted to his left to take it in for another score. The ensuing Cornhusker drive resulted in Drew Brown’s 45-yard FG. The Nebraska kickoff unit caused Tyler Byrd to fumble and they took the ball back at Tennessee’s 31. Fyfe now ran it in from the nine to close the score, 31-24, looking to possibly take this game down to the wire. However, four plays later, Dobbs connected with WR Josh Malone who easily beat CB Joshua Kalu for a 59-yard scoring play. Nebraska would hold the Tennessee offense in check with two three and outs for the balance of the game, but the last two Husker possessions ended with the Vols taking over on downs. The first time finished at their 48 on a fourth and 35 following a16-yard sack by DL Jonathan Kongbo right before a nine-yard sack by DE Derek Barnett. The final NU drive came to a halt after four straight incompletions from the 14. Tennessee took a knee and celebrated their 38-24 victory.
This was the third time in three years the Vols defeated a Big Ten opponent. CFF.com attended all three (plans had been made to attend prior to knowing what teams would be playing) – this one, last year’s 45-7 win over Northwestern in The Outback, and their humbling 45-28 win over Iowa at the Taxslayer Bowl the year before that. They should offer us tickets if they end up again in a bowl we pre-select to guarantee them a win unless it’s against Penn State. We watched the Nittany Lions defeat them in the Outback in 2007, 20-10 (Wow! Ten years already). We were rooting for the Lions, of course. We also saw the Vols defeat Wisconsin in the short-lived Garden State Bowl, 28-21, in 1981 at The Meadowlands. I still remember Tennessee’s Willie Gault streaking down the right sideline in front of me for a long kickoff return for a TD in that one.
For Collegefootballfan.com, we’re on the road from Nashville to Atlanta early Saturday morning for the big one in the Chick-Fil-a Peach Bowl where No. 1 Alabama meets No. 4 Washington in the College Football Playoff Semi-final round. Look for our update on this one late New Year’s Day.
Happy New Year to all of you!