KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee's disappointing 2016 season will end with an in-state bowl game against a fellow traditional power program.
The Volunteers learned Sunday afternoon they will face Nebraska in the Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on Dec. 30 (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.).
The two programs have combined for 1,717 all-time wins and both rank in the top five for all-time bowl appearances and bowl wins. Nebraska is 26-26 in bowls, while Tennessee is 27-24 in bowl games. The two programs claim a combined 11 national championships, the most recent being Nebraska's shared title in 1999.
"Our entire program is excited about representing the University of Tennessee at the Music City Bowl," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said in a program release. "This will be a great opportunity for our players to play in an NFL stadium against a very challenging opponent in Nebraska.
"We have a special group of seniors that have given their all for this program and I know they are excited about a final opportunity to play together."
Tennessee (8-4) moved up a spot to No. 21 in the College Football Playoff's final rankings released on Sunday, while the Cornhuskers (9-3) are 21st in the Amway Coaches Poll and 24th in the Associated Press poll.
The only two meetings between the two programs came in the 1998 Orange Bowl, when Nebraska ruined Peyton Manning's final game by rushing for 409 yards in a 42-17 rout, and the 2000 Fiesta Bowl, a 31-21 triumph for the Huskers.
Tennessee and Nebraska once were scheduled to play the first of a two-game home-and-home series this season, but the Vols pushed the series back to 2026 and 2027 so they could play the Battle at Bristol against Virginia Tech at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Nebraska's 7-0 start to this season included home wins against Wyoming and Oregon and at Indiana and Northwestern, but second-year coach Mike Riley's team lost 23-17 in overtime at Wisconsin before before getting blown out at Ohio State (62-3) and Iowa (40-10).
"This is a great opportunity to finish our year in an outstanding bowl game and compete for a 10th win against an excellent Tennessee team," Riley said. "As a staff, we are looking forward to spending the additional practice time with this team and preparing for a strong performance.
"I know our players, coaches and fans will enjoy the trip to Nashville, and we anticipate a great week of activities and an excellent football game."
The Vols played in the Music City Bowl only one other time in 2010, when Derek Dooley's first season as coach ended in an infamous and controversial double-overtime loss to North Carolina.
Tennessee is facing a Big Ten opponent in a bowl for the third straight season after crushing Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl two seasons ago and routing Northwestern in the Outback Bowl last season.
The Vols will be the home team on the east side of Nissan Stadium, and tickets are available soon through Tennessee at AllVols.com and now through the Music City Bowl's official website.
The SEC's new bowl selection process has been good for the Music City Bowl, which landed LSU-Notre Dame and Texas A&M-Louisville matchups the past two years and a pairing of two of the winningest programs in college football in 2016.
"We are looking forward to playing in this bowl game against a ranked opponent," Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said in a release. "Scott Ramsey and the Nashville Sports Council do a great job hosting the Music City Bowl each year and we are grateful for the invitation."
If not for a loss at Vanderbilt to end the regular season, Tennessee likely would have played in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma, but the 45-34 defeat to Commodores knocked the Vols out of the premier New Year's Six game and eliminated their hopes of a first 10-win season since 2007.
The Vols returned to practice inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex on Sunday, and Jones will speak at a press conference on Monday.
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.