Outback Bowl Preview: Game Predictions


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

The Northwestern defensive line sets up near the goal line. The defense will be crucial in the Cats’ attempt to knock off the Volunteers.

Daily Northwestern Staff


Alex Putterman: Northwestern 24, Tennessee 23
The Wildcats surprised us when they upset Stanford to open the season. They surprised us when they cruised by Duke and Minnesota. They surprised us when they bounced back from two bad losses to win five straight games. So sure they’re substantial underdogs against Tennessee, but that doesn’t mean they won’t surprise us again.

Stephanie Kelly: Northwestern 23, Tennessee 21
This Northwestern team deserves a little bit of optimism for its final matchup of the season. Game after game, the Cats have proven us wrong, and, although they’re not exactly favored to win against Tennessee by many, I think they can pull it off. The Cats’ victory will be determined by their defense, as was the case in their last 10 wins. If redshirt freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson and the receivers can also connect on Friday, and sophomore running back Justin Jackson continues to perform well (and he will), then the Cats will sneak by the Volunteers and secure NU’s third bowl-game win.

Claire Hansen: Northwestern 24, Tennessee 21
NU is going to, quite literally, run into some problems with the Tennessee defense, which is used to stopping SEC-level production. Tampa is hardly a neutral site, too, as the drive from Knoxville is much more manageable than from the Midwest and the Northeast, where many NU students hail from. But the Cats have faced hostile environments and formidable defenses before and emerged victorious. NU’s drive, propensity to squeak out wins under pressure, rock-solid defense and cadre of playmakers should be able to beat the Volunteers on New Year’s Day barring any first quarter performances reminiscent of the Michigan game.

Huzaifa Patel: Northwestern 27, Tennessee 30 (OT)
The Cats will be in this game until the end but fall just short. I predicted the Tennessee offense to score 24 points, but I think the Cats can match that production. With the extra time to prepare, offensive coordinator Mick McCall will add a wrinkle or two that will allow the Cats to have success running the football and put together quality drives. This includes Thorson running the ball more on designed runs and with greater urgency, this being the last game of the season and a bowl game. In the end, I went with the team that had the more experienced quarterback to be the decider in overtime.

Bobby Pillote: Tennessee 21, Northwestern 20
NU will play this game close, not letting the Tennessee offense gain too much of an advantage but also never getting its own offense in a good rhythm. The Wildcats will drive down the field for a potential game-tying score — no doubt thanks to some Thorson heroics — only to lose the game on a failed two-point conversion attempt. It may be a disappointing loss, but it won’t be an embarrassing one.