In their first bowl appearance since 2010, the Tennessee Volunteers were able to dismantle the Iowa Hawkeyes 45-28.
The advantages began piling up before the teams even took the field for the TaxSlayer Bowl. Jacksonville was invaded by thousands of people wearing orange, which made up the color of EverBank field on Friday night.
“This was a home game for Tennessee,” said Iowa’s head coach Kirk Ferentz.
“This bowl game shows that our fans are the best in the nation,” Tennessee’s head coach Butch Jones said.
Jalen Hurd created his own momentum at the beginning, which Tennessee would replicate after his first drive of the game. Hurd got the ball four times and rushed for 42 yards including the touchdown that capped it off. The Vols then were able to grab complete control of the game by stopping Iowa on fourth down. Hurd then finished off the next drive with a 29-yard touchdown run.
At halftime, the Vols looked like they were on the fast track to victory, leading Iowa 35-7. Tennessee tied a TaxSlayer/Gator Bowl record held by the 1994 Vols with 35 first half points. Hurd had already accomplished his first multiple touchdown game of his career and had 10 carries for 97 yards. The Vols’ defense was also suffocating; Jalen Reeves-Maybin was a force and led the Vols with seven total tackles.
The third quarter went the same way the whole day had gone, as Tennessee captured a comfortable 42-7 lead. Iowa scored some late points in the fourth quarter bringing the final to 45-28.
Joshua Dobbs ended his sophomore year as the driving force of a young Tennessee team. He went 16-21 with 129 yards, a touchdown and one interception. He also hurt Iowa with his feet, rushing 13 times for 76 yards and two scores. Jalen Hurd was only 3 yards away from a career high in rushing yards, as he rushed for 122 yards and two scores as well.
Von Pearson also finished strong in his first year with Tennessee. He caught 7 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. Reeves-Maybin continued to be one of the main stars on the defensive side of the ball, as he recorded 13 total tackles.
C.J. Beathard for Iowa had a good performance through the air. He went 13-23 throwing for 145 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed 8 times for 82 yards. Jordan Canzeri was the main difference maker for the Hawkeyes. He rushed 12 times for 120 yards and seemed to give Tennessee the most trouble.
This may have been the last game of the season, but it was the beginning of something large in a different sense. Tennessee has proved that they can play with any team. They may be young, but they’re young, talented players that are gaining more and more experience.
“If you want to be a part of something special, you come to the University of Tennessee,” said Jones.
“You don’t get anything by chance. Everything has to be worked for, and this team worked for this game tonight.”
“We are here to compete. We are coming. For real.” said Hurd.
Edited by Maggie Jones