Purdue needs a victory to finish with the Boilermakers’ most wins in a season since 2003. A ninth win would be only the 12th time in the Boilermakers’ 134-year history to win nine games in a season. Purdue also is looking for its first bowl victory since the 2017 Foster Farms Bowl in coach Jeff Brohm’s first season. Tennessee already has more than doubled the wins of a a season ago. Coach Josh Heupel can become the sixth Volunteers’ coach all-time to win eight or more games in his debut season. Tennessee is playing after university officials chose not to self-impose a bowl ban after firing Heupel’s predecessor in January.
Tennessee’s up-tempo offense against Purdue’s defense. The Volunteers not only score fast, they have outscored opponents 169-44 in the first quarter this season. Purdue ranks 19th nationally allowing 20.5 points a game. The Boilermakers also have 14 takeaways over the past seven games after having only two combined through the first five games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Purdue: QB Aidan O’Connell. The fifth-year senior led the Big Ten completing 73.5% of his passes and has completed 74% or better in seven straight games. O’Connell was at his best against top competition, averaging 433.7 yards, completing 75.3% of his passes and throwing nine TDs with no interceptions in games against Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State.
Tennessee: QB Hendon Hooker. The senior ranked third nationally and led the Southeastern Conference with a 182.15 passer rating. He took over as the starter Sept. 18 and went 6-4 as a starter throwing 24 TD passes with only two interceptions. He had 2,866 yards of total offense completing 68.6% of his passes. He has 26 TD passes and five rushing TDs overall. Hooker has thrown at least one TD pass in 11 straight games, tied for the fourth-longest streak in school history.
FACTS & FIGURES
Purdue won the only other game between these teams in the Bluebonnet Bowl 27-22 on Dec. 31, 1979. Purdue is one of 48 schools Tennessee has faced only once, 23 of which remain in FBS. … This is Purdue’s second berth and Tennessee’s third trip to the Music City Bowl, now sponsored by TransPerfect. The Boilermakers lost 63-14 to Auburn in 2018. Tennessee lost to North Carolina in double overtime in 2010 and beat Nebraska 38-24 in 2016. … Purdue is 10-9 in bowls all-time and third in Brohm’s five seasons. … Two of Purdue’s victories came over previously unbeaten No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan State, giving the Boilermakers two wins over Top Five teams for the first time since 1960. … Purdue completed a school-record 381 passes, topping the mark of 377 set in 1998 when Drew Brees completed 361 passes. … This is Tennessee’s 54th bowl, which ranks fifth all-time behind Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Oklahoma. Tennessee ranks seventh nationally with a 29-24 bowl record. … Tennessee has won four straight bowl games, all against Big Ten opponents, and is 11-5 all-time against Big Ten teams in bowls.