Tennessee had a miniature Vol Walk on their way into Nissan Stadium to practice in Nashville on Wednesday. It wasn’t planned — the actual Vol Walk is Friday morning — but there are just lot of Tennessee fans here, which I guess you’d expect in Tennessee.
I assume most of those in orange will make their way into the stadium on Friday. The game’s sold out. But, big home-state crowd or not, there’s still the question of motivation in this game.
Disappointing seasons — and this one was that for Volunteer fans — make bowl games tricky. As local columnist John Adams wrote yesterday, there doesn’t appear to be a lot on the line here for Tennessee:
. . . Tennessee already has proved it can beat a mid-level Big Ten team decisively in a bowl. What did that get them?
Answer: Nothing better than a runnerup role to Florida in the East.
The physical status of quarterback Tommy Armstrong also could diminish the significance of a Tennessee victory. A lingering hamstring injury could sideline him, or at best allow him to perform at far less than 100 percent efficiency. Moreover, Nebraska’s top receiver, Jordan Westerkamp, is out for the game with a knee injury, and All-Big Ten safety Nate Gerry has been ruled ineligible for the game.
But the main reason this bowl will have a reduced impact for UT is how the regular season played out.
If you buy that line of thinking, Nebraska then has at least one edge here: Its regular season, even considering two blowouts and three total losses to three best teams the Huskers played, still gets labeled as “progress.”
Nebraska went from 5-7 to 9-3. You can dig into the details — and that’s worth your time — but from an aerial view, the Huskers get to carry the “improving” stamp into 2017. Nebraska is what Tennessee was maybe two years ago. The Huskers’ injuries and suspensions only boost that narrative. Nobody knows what to expect from Nebraska in its current iteration, which can be freeing in its own way.
Are any of the players thinking about stuff like this? Of course not, but it does make for an interesting juxtaposition — one that might favor Nebraska.
Just Going to Leave This Here
The Grab Bag
- Tennessee’s defense is planning to get back to its “style of defense” (the good one) on Friday.
- Here’s your game recap from Nebraska’s massive road win over Indiana last night from the Indianapolis Star.
- According to a recruit, Hugh Freeze compared negative recruiting against Ole Miss as the Rebels await word on potential NCAA sanctions to Jesus getting nailed to the cross.
- Clemson and Ohio State are going all in on their football program’s digital efforts.
- ICYMI: Country star Chase Rice stopped by Nebraska’s practice yesterday, where Ryker Fyfe also talked about being the starter in his final game and Aaron Babcock took photos.
Today’s Song of Today
No. 2…just wait for the drop, it’s magic.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.