Hot Reads: Early Picks Projecting a Close Music City Bowl
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Hot Reads: Early Picks Projecting a Close Music City Bowl

December 22, 2016

There is no shortage of bowl predictions out there, and most of them are favoring Tennessee over Nebraska in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30. Not a huge surprise there. The Volunteers almost certainly have the better offense, particularly with the Huskers’ questions at quarterback, and that offense was playing its best at the end of the season.

So let’s round up some of the projections thus far.

While many of predictions so far are favoring Tennessee, most are projecting a tightly contested game. The line continues to hang around the 3- to 3.5-point range, but the average projection at, a collection of nearly 60 computer predictions, has the Volunteers by 2.8. In Nebraska’s favor, as this preview notes, underdogs have fared pretty well in this game while SEC teams are just 7-10.

Jeff Sagarin’s ratings — which, incidentally, have the SEC East ranked as the worst Power 5 division in the country this season — have a projected score of Tennessee 31.79 Nebraska 28.42. doesn’t see a game that is that close, giving the Vols a 74 percent chance of winning with a projected score of 31-21. ESPN’s FPI has Tennessee with a 67.2-percent chance of winning., which has traditionally been pretty strong during bowl season, has a projected spread of Tennessee -3.8 with a 61-percent win probability. The Massey Ratings, which were the most accurate against the spread this season according to Prediction Tracker, are also predicting a 3-point game in favor of the Vols.

One of the few places I’ve seen projecting a Nebraska win is Bill Connelly’s S&P+ ratings. Over there, the Huskers are given a 52-percent chance of winning outright with a projected score of 29.8-28.7.

Also of note: This marks the sixth-straight year Nebraska is an underdog in its bowl game, dating back to the 2011 Capital One Bowl against South Carolina. The Huskers have covered three straight, however, winning two (2013, 2015) outright.

Mentoring Jimmies & Joes

Texas Coach Tom Herman is speaking my language again. In an interview with Sirius XM, excerpted by, Herman talked about what makes coaches great:

“At the end of the day, everybody runs the same blitzes we run on defense,” Herman said. “Everybody runs zone read and curl flat or four verts. There’s no secret offense or defense. It’s how good are the players, and what is their passion, what drives them, and how are they developed?

“The X’s and O’s is so far down the list of what makes a great coach. Everybody does the same things. It’s how great of a mentor are you? How great of a teacher are you? How good of a recruiter are you?”

Herman also talked a bit about filling out his Texas staff. He’s filled most of his coaching staff with coaches that were with him at Houston, but is boosting the number of support staff, an area where Herman said Texas was “under-staffed for the elite teams in the country.”

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said recently that the NCAA needs to look at limiting support staffs if it wants to keep the playing field level for all programs.

The Grab Bag

  • Nebraska tight end Cethan Carter will play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The all-star game is on Jan. 21 in California and will be televised by FS1.
  • Nebraska will get the opportunity it largely missed this season, because Oregon running back Royce Freeman is returning for his senior season.
  • Bob Stoops says that Sooners’ running back Joe Mixon probably would have been dismissed from the team in today’s climate.
  • BYU AD Tom Holmoe seems to be aching for a Power 5 invite. The Cougars did beat Wyoming last night in a rain-soaked bowl, however.
  • ICYMI: An eating guide to Nashville.

Today’s Song of Today

Song seven on our Best of 2016 serial. You can download, for free, the mixtape from which this song comes here.

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