Posted on January 1, 2020, by Travis Pulver

When college football fans think about the Tennessee Volunteers and Indiana Hoosiers, well—unless they are from the home states of either school, fans don’t really think of either.

Indiana is more of a basketball school, and Tennessee is the SEC’s perennial punching bag. But that wasn’t the case this year (not entirely).

The year got off to a pretty bad start for Tennessee. After losing their season opener to Georgia State, they went on to lost three of their next four. But, to be fair, two of those losses were to Florida and Georgia. There was talk that head coach Jeremy Pruitt could get let go mid-season.

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But he wasn’t, and the team went 6-1 down the stretch with their only loss coming against Alabama.

“We’ve had a great second half of the season, winning five straight, but we are not done yet,” Pruitt said, via ESPN.

Indiana got off to a better start winning seven of their first nine with losses coming against Ohio State and a then-ranked Michigan State. They finished the season with losses to Penn State and Michigan, followed by a win over Purdue.

While neither team was of championship caliber, both qualify as ‘good’ teams that deserve to go bowling.

So—How Do You Figure Out Who Is Better?

Both teams beat teams they should beat, and the teams that should have beaten them—did. They have no common opponents. Both played ranked teams, but neither defeated one. Indiana got a little closer than Tennessee did, but close doesn’t count for much.  

All you can really do is trust the stats and make a judgment call based on the quality of their opponents.

From a statistical standpoint, it appears safe to say that Tennessee could have some trouble moving the ball. For the regular season, the Volunteers offense ranked 100th in the nation in total yards (364.8 yards/game). Those yards didn’t translate into a whole lot of points either (98th; 24.3/game).

Indiana’s defense isn’t super tough (37th in the nation; 350.4 yards/game allowed). But they are going to be tough for Tennessee’s mediocre offense to move the ball on. However, the Tennessee defense is not going to be easy for the Hoosiers to move the ball on either.

The Hoosiers do not have much of a ground game (100th at 134.9 yards/game). They are good, however, at throwing the ball around (14th at 308.7 yards/game)—which is where Tennessee’s strength is on defense. This season, the Volunteers defense ranked 16th against the pass (191.3yards/game allowed).

So—who’s going to win?

Our Gator Bowl Betting Tips/Prediction

Both have things they do well and things they struggle with. In bowl games, against opponents that teams rarely (if ever) see, it can be challenging to predict how those things will impact the game. But throughout the season, Indiana played better and more consistent football than the Volunteers.

Tennessee rode a hot hand and a winnable schedule to become bowl eligible. However, they have had a month to cool off. So, there is no telling how well they are going to play. Will the team from the first half of the season show up or the second half?

The Volunteers (-129) are favored by 2.5 but take Indiana (+106) and the points. It is easier to see the Hoosiers getting off to a better start and Tennessee needing to knock off some rust. The game will probably be a close one, though, so definitely take the points.

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