Tennessee beats No. 24 Nebraska 38-24 in Music City Bowl
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Joshua Dobbs finished his Tennessee career making one final move, helping All-America defensive lineman Derek Barnett figure out how to lead the band in “Rocky Top.”
“I was a little nervous,” Barnett said with a laugh.
Dobbs quickly chimed in: “He asked me what to do.”
The duo led Tennessee in celebrating after beating No. 24 Nebraska 38-24 on Friday at the Music City Bowl. Dobbs ran for three touchdowns and 118 yards and threw for 291 yards and another score, while Barnett got the sack he needed to break a tie with the late Reggie White for the school career record.
The Volunteers (9-4) beat a Big Ten team in a bowl for a third straight year and notched their first win in three tries against the Cornhuskers. It’s the first time Tennessee has won three straight bowls since 1994-1996 when Peyton Manning was quarterback for the Vols.
“Great, great competitor,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said about Dobbs. “I knew he was going to play one of his best games. I was worried he was too amped up before the game. I told him he had four quarters of football, don’t win it in the first quarter, take what they give you.”
Tennessee took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter and outgained Nebraska 521-318 in total offense in the bowl sponsored by Franklin American Mortgage.
Nebraska (9-4) ended the season with two straight losses. The Cornhuskers lost four of their final six after rising as high as No. 7 in the rankings.
Ryker Fyfe, the fifth-year former walk-on started for injured quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. He pulled Nebraska within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Fyfe threw two TD passes to Brandon Reilly and ran for a 9-yard TD with 10:02 left in the fourth to pull the Cornhuskers within 31-24.
Dobbs answered with a 59-yard TD pass to Josh Malone for the final margin, and Nebraska coach Mike Riley said Dobbs’ athleticism was a factor.
“He did a nice job of throwing a lot of balls right on time, but it looked like to me, too, that when it wasn’t there, when it wasn’t right on time, he moved around, bought time where he moved around and ran,” Riley said. “Those plays were hard on us. You know, they had a big impact on that. I think he went for two touchdowns off of scramble plays.”
Nebraska: Armstrong was just one of the Cornhuskers watching from the sideline with his injured hamstring. Terrell Newby, their leading rusher with 864 yards, ran only nine times for 15 yards in the first half and didn’t return. Reilly had his first TDs this season, trying to help with wide receiver Jordan Westercamp recovering from knee surgery.
Fyfe credited Barnett with being in the backfield a lot. “My head, I was seeing stars and I thought I was concussed,” Fyfe said of being sacked by Barnett.
Tennessee: The Vols gave up 608 yards offense in their last visit to Nashville, a 45-34 loss to Vanderbilt that ended their hopes of a Sugar Bowl berth. With linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. and cornerback Cam Sutton among those defenders healthier after a month off, the Vols came up with four sacks and a turnover.
Barnett finally got his 33rd career sack with 3:29 left, giving him the school record for career sacks to himself. The junior came in sharing the mark with the Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman. His teammates mobbed him after the sack, and the Vols took a timeout to celebrate to avoid a penalty. “They knew that that was a milestone, that that was something very, very special,” Jones said. “And that’s one of those moments in time that you’ll always remember.”
A junior, Barnett is expected to declare early for the NFL draft. Barnett said he will consult with his family before making a decision.
IN GOOD COMPANY
Dobbs became only the third quarterback in SEC history with 15 touchdowns passing and 10 rushing in multiple seasons with his 10-yard TD run in the second quarter. Dobbs had 15 TDs passing and 11 rushing last season and came into the bowl only needing a rushing TD. He joined Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State, now in the NFL with Dallas, as the only quarterbacks to manage that feat.
His third TD rushing in the fourth quarter was his 12th of season, a school record for quarterbacks.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers need a new quarterback before next season with Tanner Lee, a transfer from Tulane, and Patrick O’Brien, who redshirted as a freshman this season, the options.
Tennessee: The Vols also will be looking for a new starter. Quinten Dormady backed up Dobbs this season, but freshman Jarrett Guarantano is a dual-threat quarterback.
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