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NCAA Bowl Previews 2015/16: Outback Bowl

Three of the New Year’s Six Bowls have been played, so just three remain. However, there's two additional Bowl games

  Three of the New Year’s Six Bowls have been played, so just three remain. However, there’s two additional Bowl games today, and first up is the Outback Bowl, pitting the Big Ten against the SEC, the (13) Northwestern Wildcats against the (23) Tennessee Volunteers. The Wildcats have had quite the year. For the last two years, this team has finished 5-7. This year, they had won that many games after just 5 games. They ended up finishing 10-2 to secure their first 10-win season since 2012. They’ll be looking to win their second straight Bowl appearance and just their 3rd all time. To do so they will be relying on a stellar defense as their offense has struggled mightily all season. Offensively, they ran 115th in total yards per game (333 YPG), 120th in passing yards per game (139.3 PYG), 37th in rushing yards per game (193.3 RYG) and 112th in points per game (20.7 PPG). Fortunately, their defense ranks 11th in total yards (311 YPG), 25th in passing (192.7 PYG), 14th in rushing (117.8 RYG) and 7th in scoring (16.4 PPG). Unlike a lot of the teams playing in today’s games, Northwestern isn’t really known for its mass of NFL prospects. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t have draftable players. The player most likely to be rated highest is FB Dan Vitale. Vitale is very similar to Baltimore Ravens FB Kyle Juszczyk; he is very versatile, able to line up as a FB, TE or even as a HB in certain situations. FB is a dying breed in the NFL, but his versatility makes him an attractive option to teams in need of a FB. Joining Vitale in their last games for the Wildcats are DE Dean Lowry, CB Nick VanHoose, WR Christian Jones, WR Cameron Dickerson, DE Deonte Gibson, LB Drew Smith, WR Miles Shuler and SS Traveon Henry. Tennessee have struggled for years to reach the heights that their name demands, but over the past two years they have been slowly improving. This year, after starting the year 3-4, they won 5 straight to get them to their second consecutive Bowl game and they’ll be looking to use that momentum to win their second consecutive Bowl win. They’ll certainly have the better offense in this game. They rank 52nd in total yards (423 YPG), 92nd in passing (199 PYG), 21st in rushing (223.5 RYG) and 32nd in scoring (34.3 PPG). Defensively, it would be hard for the Vols to be any better than the Wildcats, they rank 46th in total yards (370 YPG), 57th in passing (217.2 PYG), 49th in rushing (153.3 RYG) and 25th in scoring (21.2 PPG). The Volunteers top prospect is junior linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Reeves-Maybin has reportedly submitted exploratory paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Board, allowing him to receive a projection of his value. Should he get an amicable result, you can expect that he’ll enter the draft. What really stands out about Reeves-Maybin is his football IQ, he knows where he has to be to make plays. Furthermore, he has the range and ability to actually get himself into those positions. He is also reportedly a big presence in the locker room and is one of these teams leaders. He led the team with 99 tackles this season and has added 5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Along with Reeves-Maybin, OG Kyler Kerbyson, SS Brian Randolph, WR Von Pearson and C Mack Crowber will be looking to make an impact in their final game in the orange and white. If you want to watch this game, or any of the other Bowl games, the complete Bowl schedule can be found here, where you’ll be able to see how and when you can watch every game.  

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Remy Cabache

Lifetime sports fan. I have written with RealSport since the NFL section started and I have also written for my own blog, EbonyBird.com and I have had several articles published in local newspapers covering my local (American) football team.

NCAA Bowl Previews 2015/16: Outback Bowl

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