Purdue Football 2021: Music City Bowl – Tennessee

3:00 PM ET


Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee (Cap. 69,143)


Forecast: 65°F, 4% chance of rain, Winds 5mph NNE

2021 Record

Purdue (8-4) 

Tennessee (7-5)

S&P+ Rankings

Purdue – 52

Tennessee – 10

All-Time Series Wins

Purdue – 1

Tennessee – 0

Last Win In Series

December 31st, 1979 at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas (27-22) (Bluebonnet Bowl)


Projected Starting Lineups


QB: Aidan O’Connell

RB: Zander Horvath

LT: Cam Craig

LG: Spencer Holstege

C: Gus Hartwing

RG: Tyler Witt

RT: Eric Miller

TE: Payne Durham

WR: TJ Sheffield

WR: Jackson Anthrop

WR: Broc Thompson

NT: Lawrence Johnson

DT: Branson Deen

DE: Jack Sullivan

DE: Kydran Jenkins

OLB: Jaylan Alexander

MLB: Kieren Douglas

OLB: Jalen Graham

CB: Jamari Brown

FS: Cam Allen

SS: Marvin Grant

CB: Anthony Romphf

K: Mitchell Fineran

P: Jack Ansell

LS: Nick Zecchino

KR: TJ Sheffield

PR: Jackson Anthrop


2021 Stat Comparison

Offensive Points per game27.538.3
Offensive Rushing Yards Per Game84.3211.6
Offensive Passing Yards Per Game340.5247.1
Total Offensive Yards Per Game424.8458.7
Defensive Points per game20.527.5
Defensive Rushing Yards Per Game148.3153.2
Defensive Passing Yards Per Game194.6251.4
Total Defensive Yards Per Game342.9404.6

What to Watch For

For the first time in 18 years, the Purdue Boilermakers have a chance to finish the season with 9 wins, but an explosive Tennessee offense stands between the Boilers and glory. Purdue will be without key pieces that have gotten them to the Music City bowl this season, most notably George Karlaftis and David Bell, both of whom have opt’d out of playing in preparation for the NFL Draft. Additionally, Purdue will be without their next best receiver, Milton Wright, and starting corner Dedrick Mackey for the game. The time for underclassmen and backups to step was coming one way or another after this season, they get a chance to show out on a national stage and set the tone leading into the 2022 season. It’s time to lace up those shoes and go bowling. Let’s dig in.

While Purdue will be without David Bell and Milton Wright on offense this afternoon, the rest of the offense should be available including Aidan O’Connell who will be returning for his 6th year in 2022. O’Connell will have the rest of his weapons available that finished the season healthy including: Durham, Miller, Sheffield, Anthrop, Thompson, Horvath and Doerue. Young receivers like Collin Sullivan and Preston Terrell should have opportunities on the outside as well. The biggest question, will be how well the offensive line can handle an SEC defensive line. Expect Brohm to continue his game plan to get the ball out of O’Connell’s hand quick as has been done nearly all season long. On the back end, the Volunteers will be without their top corner Alontae Taylor, who is going to the NFL. Tennessee predominately runs zone coverage either 3 deep or single deep man coverage. If the Volunteers opt to play their 3 deep coverage, Purdue should be poised to pick it apart as they have throughout the season. O’Connell and the Boilers should be able to move the ball, with all eyes focused on keeping a clean pocket for O’Connell.

This will be Purdue’s toughest offense they have seen since Ohio State over a month ago and it comes with a strategy Purdue hasn’t really faced this season, tempo. The Tennessee offense lead by head coach Josh Heupel, is lightning quick and often times doesn’t even signal in plays and relies on the quarterbacks to call set plays in hurry up. The Vols offense utilizes both power spread and air raid concepts to spread teams out and take shots over the top, but then come back to their running game to gash undisciplined opposing front sevens. Former Virginia Tech QB Hendon Hooker runs the offense for the Vols completing a nice 69% of his passes for over 2,500 yards with a staggering 26 touchdowns to 3 interceptions with another 561 yards on the ground. Pounding the rock for the Vols are Jabari Small and Tiyon Evans who have combined for over 1,100 yards on the ground and average well over 5 yards per carry. Purdue will need a young corner to step up big time, over slide over a safety to the position with Dedrick Mackey out. Expecting Anthony Romphf and Sanoussi Kane to get first stab and backfilling at the position. Jack Sullivan will replace Karlaftis at the defensive end position, where has has backed him up all year and frankly had a great year in his limited snaps. Tennessee will be without their starting Right Tackle Cade Mays, who is dealing with a foot injury, expect Purdue to put pressure on his backups when they are able to get calls in on defense.

Well folks, it’s the end of the road for the 2021 Boilermaker squad and they have a tremendous opportunity in front of them, one nearly two decades in the making. The Boilers will be looking to flip the script on the last time they played in Nissan Stadium, but expect big numbers to be put up by both teams. It’s going to be a shoot out in Music City, so crack open a beer, and throw on some country music. Let’s Play Football.


Radio: Purdue Radio Network


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