[title_box title=”Vols crush the Cats 45-6″]
Tennessee won their second bowl game in two years, defeating Northwestern 45-6.
It was déjà vu. Tennessee was scheduled to play a bowl game in Florida against a Big Ten team. Their fans again showed up by the thousands, creating a party-like atmosphere in which Tennessee dominated their opponent.
Tennessee started off slow though. The Vols went three and out on their first two possessions and both teams missed field goals, but the game changed when Joshua Dobbs ran in a score from 14 yards out.
Tennessee would go on to score a field goal on the next possession. Later in the quarter, Alvin Kamara found the end zone with an 11-yard run. The Volunteers went into the halftime locker room with a 17-6 lead.
The second half was a different story. What was once a defensive battle turned into a blowout, with the Vols doing all of the scoring. Tennessee scored 28 points in the second half thanks to an efficient offense that capitalized off of turnovers.
The exclamation point was made with eight seconds left in the game, when Evan Berry picked off Zack Oliver and ran it 100 yards the other way for a touchdown.
Jalen Hurd rushed for 130 yards on 24 rushes and also scored a touchdown. He won the Outback bowl MVP award and became the first Tennessee player in history to rush for over 100 yards in two bowl games. He carried the offense in the second half, even though he was injured.
“I battled a little hamstring pull at the beginning of the week,” said Hurd. “But I did treatment all week and I put in my mind that I was going to play either way, and that’s what I did tonight.”
Dobbs threw for 166 yards and also had 63 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. Alex Ellis led the Vols in receiving with 74 yards on three receptions.
Tennessee’s defense was strong all day even though standout cornerback Cam Sutton was injured early in the game. The secondary held their own and forced four interceptions. Derek Barnett led the Vols in tackles with eight and also had a sack.
Even after an exciting bowl win, coach Butch Jones made it known that he isn’t close to being done with Tennessee football.
“We are still under construction, you’re always under construction,” he said. “The road to success is always under construction, and we need to continue to grow and elevate our football program.”
Edited by Nathan Odom