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The Vols celebrated the new year style.

#23 Tennessee pounded its way to a 45-6 victory over #13 Northwestern in the 30th anniversary Outback Bowl on Friday at Raymond James Stadium.

It was the largest margin of victory for the Vols in a bowl game in program history -in front of over 53,000 fans who were mostly clad in orange.
“This football team defines resolve,” Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones said. “There was a lot of individuals that wanted to bury us, wanted to look for everything out there in this team just kept staying in it. Actually the adversity brought us closer and closer together, united us, six game winning streak, and it’s a football team that all of Vol Nation should be very, very proud of.”

The Vols (9-4) racked up 226 rushing yards, led by Outback Bowl MVP Jalen Hurd, who racked up 130 yards rushing and a touchdown, becoming the first Vol to rush for 100 rushing yards in two bowl games. Joshua Dobbs ran for 48 yards and two touchdowns, and Alvin Kamara added 53 rushing yards and one score.

Dobbs also completed 14 of 25 passes for 166 yards, hitting nine different receivers. The Vols had 420 total offensive yards.

The Tennessee defense limited Northwestern (10-3) to 261 yards, intercepted four passes and totaled four sacks.

Evan Berry accounted for the final interception of the day, catching a deflected pass in the Tennessee end zone and running 100 yards back for a touchdown in the final minute.

With the win, Tennessee improved to 27-24 all-time in bowl games. The Vols, who won the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl against Iowa, have posted back-to-back bowl wins in consecutive seasons for the first time since winning the 1996 and the 1997 Florida Citrus Bowls.

UT’s nine wins are its most since going 10-4 in the 2007 season. The Vols close the year with a six-game winning streak, their longest since winning six-straight to end the 2003 regular season.

“A win obviously provides momentum,” Jones said. “Any time you can win a bowl game, a January bowl game against a quality opponent, the 13th ranked team in the country that was 10 2, I think, again, it adds credence to what you’re building.”

Both offenses stalled early in the first quarter. After a Malik Foreman interception set the Vols up at the Northwestern 22-yard line with 6:53 remaining in the quarter, Aaron Medley missed a 49-yard field goal off of the right upright. A pair of UT defensive penalties aided the Wildcats on their ensuing drive, but Northwestern came up empty as well when Jack Mitchell sent a 42-yard field goal attempt wide right.

Tennessee’s offense came alive late in the first quarter. Josh Dobbs directed a seven-play, 75-yard drive, highlighted by a 42-yard completion to Alex Ellis. Dobbs scored on a 14-yard run to cap the drive, marking his 10th rushing touchdown on the season.

The Vols’ lead grew to 10-0 after an 11-play, 46-yard drive early in the second quarter. Medley made a 35-yard field goal after Tennessee’s rushing attack carried the Vols into the red zone.

Northwestern scored on a five-yard rush by Justin Jackson with 5:40 left in the first half. The Wildcats missed the extra point wide left.

Kamara gave Tennessee a 17-6 halftime lead when he sprinted to the front right pylon for an 11-yard touchdown run, his seventh on the season. The Vols had 197 yards to Northwestern’s 127 in the first half. Dobbs connected with Ellis for the two longest plays of the opening half (42 yards, 22 yards) and Hurd gained 44 yards on eight carries.

Hurd rumbled to 52 yards on the ground in the third quarter, including a three-yard score with 4:40 on the clock that extended the Vols’ lead to 24-6.

Dobbs tip-toed his way down the right sideline for an 18-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to extend Tennessee’s lead to 31-6.

John Kelly punched in a one-yard touchdown run with 4:24 remaining and Berry kept UT’s rowdy fans on their feet with his 100-yard pick six that left eight seconds on the game clock.