Blackshirts try to rise off mat against Vols

Reeling Blackshirts try to rise off mat vs. Vols

Nebraska’s final month of the regular season couldn’t have gone much worse. After some time to rest up and regain its bearings, though, can Mike Riley’s group give Tennessee a scare today?

The two programs clash in the Music City Bowl at 3:30 p.m. ET. Online sports book BetDSI opened the Volunteers as 3.5-point favorites over the Cornhuskers. The over/under is set at 56.5.

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Riley watched helplessly as a number of his players went down with injuries during a 2-2 November. Yet no physical issue leveled Lincoln’s finest quite like Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s. A balky hamstring forced the senior quarterback to miss Nebraska’s 28-7 win vs. Minnesota, and he’s been sidelined ever since. Armstrong likely will serve as a bystander at Nissan Stadium, too. That means leading-man duties fall to Ryker Fyfe, with Zack Darlington waiting in the wings.

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Things are equally dicey at the other skill positions. Dynamic wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp hurt his knee shortly before Christmas. As for running back Tre Bryant, he’s also dealing with a hamstring conundrum. Then there’s the case of captain Nate Gerry. The third-team All-America safety was ruled ineligible because of academics.

Tennessee’s not devoid of quandaries, either. Elite linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder), offensive tackle Chance Hall (surgery) and kick returner Evan Berry (knee) remain out of the mix. Still, coach Butch Jones knows he can rely on the irrepressible Joshua Dobbs. The Georgia native threw for 2,665 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions  in his last year in Knoxville.

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The Huskers must keep Hobbs’ mobility in check, as well, as he motored for 717 yards on the ground this fall. With a depleted roster, however, we simply don’t see that happening. Throw your full support behind the Vols.

FRIDAY NCAA FREE PICK: NEBRASKA/TENNESSEE UNDER 56.5 POINTS

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