Tennessee vs


at Miami Gardens
Fri, Dec 30
5:00 PM Pacific
Rotation: 267
Odds: Clemson -7, Total: 64

Game Analysis

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Note: I release this game early in the bowl season when the line was +7 at most books. The market agreed, as the line on this game closed at 4.

Strong Opinion – Tennessee (+7 -120)  30   Clemson  31

The market appears to have overreacted to Tennessee not having QB Hendon Hooker and top WR Jalin Hyatt and to Clemson changing quarterbacks. I’d have favored Tennessee by more than 7 points with Hooker at quarterback and now Clemson is favored by 7 points.

Hooker had a great season in a well-designed offense and backup Joe Milton is certainly a downgrade, but Milton has talent and he averaged 13.3 yards on his 54 pass plays this season. Most of that was in garbage time but he’s also averaged 9.3 yards on 23 passes since Hooker went down with his injury. To be conservative I’ll use his lifetime completion percentage in conjunction with the Vols’ average yards per completion and sack rate to get a projection that is 1.1 yards per pass play worse than Hooker. Hyatt has decided to opt out, as I had expected, and that is also a big blow, as Hyatt’s 13.9 yards per target is much higher than the 9.2 YPT average of the rest of the wide receivers this season. Cedric Tillman opting out to prepare for the NFL might be a positive given that Tillman averaged only 7.1 yards per target on 59 targets in 6 games while the 7 of other 8 wide Vols wide receivers that caught a pass this season averaged at least 10.0 yards per target.

Without Hyatt (and if I make no positive adjustment for Tillman playing even though he was the worst of the team’s receivers this season in YPT) then the Vols’ offense would be 8.5 points worse than they’d be with Hooker and Hyatt. That includes a slightly higher projected turnover number even though Milton has not thrown an interception on 116 passes in this Tennessee offense (Hooker only threw 5 in 2 seasons). I would still rate the Tennessee offense at 0.7 yards per play better than average without Hooker and Hyatt (that includes an adjustment Hooker’s running contribution) and Clemson’s defense is 0.9 yppl better than average.

Tennessee’s advantage when Clemson has the ball is more, as the Vols’ defense has been 0.6 yppl better than average this season (5.5 yppl allowed to teams that would average 6.1 yppl against an average team) while the Tigers’ offense has been just 0.2 yppl better than average. Most people expect that Clemson will be significantly better with Cade Klubnik taking over at quarterback for DJ Uiagalelei, but Klubnik has had one good game and if he were obviously better than Uiagalelei then he would have been named the starter much earlier than now. Klubnik was great in the ACC Championship game against a horrible North Carolina defense but he’s been just 0.3 yards per pass play better than average on his 48 pass plays over the course of the season (7.6 yppp against teams that would allow 6.3 yppp), which is only 0.2 yppp better than their season rating. It’s possible that Klubnik will be much better but there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that he’s significantly better than Uiagalelei was.

Tennessee is still a better overall team from the line of scrimmage even without Hooker and Hyatt. Tennessee is a Strong Opinion at +6 points or more.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Tennessee
  • Clemson


  • Run Plays 37.7 32.3
  • Run Yards 219.4 133.0
  • YPRP 5.8 4.1


  • Pass Comp 22.2 24.9
  • Pass Att 32.4 38.6
  • Comp % 68.5% 64.5%
  • Pass Yards 310.5 283.8
  • Sacks 2.1 2.3
  • Sack Yards 10.9 15.9
  • Sack % 6.1% 5.5%
  • Pass Plays 34.5 40.9
  • Net Pass Yards 299.5 267.9
  • YPPP 8.7 6.5


  • Total Plays 72.2 73.2
  • Total Yards 518.9 400.9
  • YPPL 7.2 5.5


  • Int 0.2 0.7
  • Int % 0.6% 1.9%
  • Fumbles 0.7 0.9
  • Turnovers 0.9 1.6
  • Points 47.3 23.5
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