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Know your foe: Purdue Boilermakers

What you need to know about Tennessee's opponent in the Music City Bowl.
Credit: AP
FILE — Purdue quarterback Aidan O'Connell throws against Michigan State during an NCAA college football game in West Lafayette, Ind., Nov. 6, 2021. Purdue is scheduled to face Tennessee in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For only the second time in history, Tennessee and Purdue will cross paths on the gridiron. The Vols and Boilermakers play in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl on Dec. 30. 

Here's what you need to know about Purdue: 

Firstly, Purdue will play without multiple key starters on Thursday afternoon. The program's top two receivers, David Bell and Milton Wright, will not play. Bell opted out of the bowl game to focus on the NFL Draft, while Wright did not travel to Nashville. Bell and Wright combined for 49% of the Boilermakers' receiving yards in the regular season and scored 13 of Purdue's 30 receiving touchdowns. 

Defensive end George Karlaftis also opted out and declared for the NFL Draft. He led Purdue in tackles for loss, sacks and quarterback hits. Cornerback Dedrick Mackey did not travel with the Boilermakers to Nashville. He finished second on the team with three interceptions. 

The Boilermakers finished the regular season 8-4. A pair of their wins came against top-five teams. Purdue upset second-ranked Iowa on Oct. 16 and took down fifth-ranked Michigan State on Nov. 6. 

Purdue attacks defenses with a pass-heavy offense. Averaging 44 pass attempts per game, the Boilermakers racked up 4,086 yards. Starting quarterback Aidan O'Connell leads the passing attack. The fifth-year senior competed 73.5% of his passes for 3,178 yards and 23 touchdowns. 

Jeff Brohm is Purdue's head coach and is wrapping up his fifth season at the helm. Like Tennessee Head Coach Josh Heupel, Brohm was a starting quarterback on the collegiate level. Brohm played at Louisville, starting for three seasons. 

The Music City Bowl kicks off at 3 p.m. at Nissan Stadium. The game airs on ESPN. 


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