The semifinals of the College Football Playoff may be over, but there are still bowl games left on the schedule, besides the national championship game. Tennessee (6-6, 3-5 SEC) and Iowa (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) are set to meet on Friday afternoon in the Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville.
The Volunteers barely qualified to play in a bowl game, posting a .500 regular-season record and losing more games than they won in conference play. Tennessee had no luck against the most difficult part of their schedule, losing all five games against ranked opponents. They picked up three wins against teams that reached bowl games, and they earned a bowl berth with a 24-17 victory over Vanderbilt in their last game.
While Tennessee has won three of their last four contests, Iowa hasn’t won since Nov. 15. They closed out the season with two close defeats, losing to Wisconsin and Nebraska by five total points. The Hawkeyes lost their only game against a ranked team, and they got two wins against bowl teams.
The two teams had very similar regular seasons. Not only did they fail to beat any teams in the top 25, but they are very close in the national offensive and defensive rankings. Iowa’s 70th ranked scoring offense (28.3 points per game) is slightly better than Tennessee’s No.76 offense (27.6 points per game). They rank back-to-back in points allowed, with the Volunteers coming in at 33rd (23.9) and the Hawkeyes ranking 34th (24.0) in the nation.
Joshua Dobbs took over for an injured Justin Worley with five games remaining for Tennessee. The quarterback has thrown eight touchdowns and run for six more, while being intercepted five times. His best performance came in an overtime win over South Carolina, when he threw for 301 yards, ran for 166 yards and totaled five touchdowns.
There had been some question as to who would start at quarterback for Iowa, but Jake Rudock will get the call. The junior threw for 2,404 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2014. In his last three games, he’s combined to throw and run for eight scores, while throwing just one pick.
The Big Ten is looking for another bowl win, following a big day on New Year’s Day. The conference went 3-1 on the holiday bowl schedule, as No.18 Wisconsin beat No.19 Auburn, and No.4 Ohio State and No.7 Michigan State both defeated top five teams. The SEC suffered two losses to the Big Ten on Thursday, after the conference had lost both of its bowl games on New Year’s Eve.
Start Time: 3:20 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Point Spread: Tennessee favored by 3.5 points
Over/Under: 52 points
Prediction: Iowa over Tennessee, 27-24