Tennessee vs. Purdue Music City Bowl Odds and Free Picks

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Hendon Hooker #5 of the Tennessee Volunteers. Marvin Gentry/Getty Images /AFP

The Music City Bowl sees the 7-5 Tennessee Volunteers face off against 8-4 Purdue Boilermakers for the first time ever. The Volunteers have an explosive offense, whereas the Boilermakers have made their mark with a stout defense. Keep reading to check the NCAAF odds and a full breakdown of this betting matchup.

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Purdue Boilermakers

Thursday, December 30, 2021 – 03:00 PM EST at Nissan Stadium

The 7-5 Tennessee Titans had quite the rollercoaster season thanks to a mixture of blowout wins and losses. Only three of their games were determined by one score. Yet, they covered in only five of their 12 games.

Purdue fared better on both fronts, with an 8-4 record and 7-5 ATS output. Two surprising losses to Illinois and Minnesota sunk their season, but this squad held their own against superior opponents. They know how to play up to the competition.

Here are my picks and predictions for the Music City Bowl matchup between the Volunteers and the Boilermakers:

Odds Analysis

The line between Tennessee and Purdue shifted since being announced as the public has continued to sour on the Boilermakers. Originally giving the Volunteers 3 points, this has swelled to 4.5 points to the SEC team. Giving either team that advantage appears to be a risk-based on their track records. 

The total has moved, even more, bouncing up from 58.5 to a whopping 64.5 on some of the top-rated sportsbooks. This is one of the largest growing totals of the season we've seen. Either the public is horribly wrong, or oddsmakers completely misjudged this line.

Purdue officially turned their offense over to quarterback Aidan O'Connell early in the season and the passing game thrived. O'Connell is an accurate pocket presence who can carve up a defense with ease thanks to a receiver corps that features a great NFL prospect in David Bell. Bell won't play in this game, but Jackson Anthrop, Milton Wright, and Payne Durham will pick up the slack.

The Boilermakers' ninth-ranked passing game must do well since their running game has been nonexistent all year. The good news is the Volunteers' youth in the secondary showed all year, producing the 87th-ranked pass defense. Purdue will absolutely be able to score on them.

I don't see a path for Tennessee to blow out Purdue barring turnovers. Tennessee is a rush-first offense with Hendon Hooker leading a deep bevy of runners. Hooker is an efficient passer but also reliant on a scheme to create yards. He's not overly accurate or dangerous as a precision pocket thrower. 

Purdue's 16th-ranked passing defense and 19th-ranked scoring defense will hold their own well enough even without star George Karlaftis. Points will be tallied but both teams will be successful.

The Prediction

There's simply too much firepower on both sides for this game to be low-scoring. Factor in the fact sack-artist George Karlaftis will be out, and Tennessee allowed 31 or more in five games, and it's easy to see this pushing over. Both teams' best athletes are on offense as well.

Tennessee has hit the over in their last five games and in seven of their last eight overall. Few teams have pushed them over as often as they have. Hendon Hooker's gaudy stat line has helped them overachieve.

Jeff Brohm is a great offensive coach who will also get the most out of his team. Although Purdue has gone under in eight of their last 12, that's more indicative of the offense struggling to start the year. A change at quarterback completely altered their offensive capability. 

For my college football picks, I expect this game to end up in the 35-31 range, with Purdue covering and the total going over. 

NCAAF Pick: Purdue +4.5 (-105) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Purdue +4.5 (-105)
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NCAAF Pick: Over 64.5 (-108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports)

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Over 64.5 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.