FACTS & STATS: Site: Vanderbilt Stadium (39,790) — Nashville, Tennessee.
Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Tennessee 4-3, Vanderbilt 3-3. Away
Record: Tennessee 1-3, Vanderbilt 0-4. Neutral Record: Tennessee 0-1,
Vanderbilt 0-0. Conference Record: Tennessee 2-5, Vanderbilt 0-7. Series
Record: Tennessee leads, 73-30-5.
GAME NOTES: The Tennessee Volunteers will try to become bowl eligible on the
final game of the regular season, as they take on the Vanderbilt Commodores on
Saturday afternoon in an SEC clash at Vanderbilt Stadium.
Tennessee had won two straight over South Carolina (45-42 in OT) and Kentucky
(50-16) prior to its home loss to Missouri last Saturday, 29-21. The Vols, who
are 5-6 overall and 2-5 in the SEC, have finished with exactly five wins in
each of the previous three seasons and have not earned a bowl bid since 2010.
Vanderbilt, meanwhile, has experienced plenty of growing pains in the first
season under coach Derek Mason, as it is just 3-8 overall while bringing up
the rear in the SEC standings (0-7). The Commodores were most recently blown
out at nationally-ranked Mississippi State last Saturday, 51-0, but the good
news for this matchup is that they are 3-3 at home.
After 108 all-time meetings, Tennessee holds a commanding 73-30-5 advantage,
although Vanderbilt has come out on top in each of the past two seasons.
The Vols’ offense has been inconsistent this season, ranking near the bottom
of the SEC in scoring (27.9 ppg) and yardage (372.2 ypg), and they amassed
just 279 yards a week ago.
Joshua Dobbs has filled in admirably for an injured Justin Worley under
center, completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 985 yards, eight touchdowns
and three interceptions while adding stellar rushing totals as well (302
yards, four TDs).
Jalen Hurd has emerged as the featured tailback as a true freshman and sits
with 756 yards and three touchdowns on 169 carries. He’s also a trusted check-
down option with 33 receptions for 217 yards and two scores.
Alton Howard is the go-to receiving option. Although he’s scored just one
touchdown, he leads the team in both catches (47) and yards (534).
Defensively, Tennessee has performed very well in allowing just 24.5 ppg and
367.9 ypg while holding opponents to just 35 percent success on third down and
forcing 19 turnovers.
With A.J. Johnson (101 tackles) suspended indefinitely, Jalen Reeves-Maybin
(83 tackles, 10.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) is now the leading tackler. Derek Barnett
(18.5 TFL, 9.0 sacks) and Curt Maggitt (12.0 TFL, 9.0 sacks) have been
dominant forces on the defensive line, while Justin Coleman and Cameron Sutton
both have three interceptions.
Vanderbilt’s offense has struggled all season long, as it ranks last in the
SEC in scoring (17.2 ppg) and yardage (290.3 ypg) by a wide margin. The unit
had another rough outing last week, putting up only 228 yards in the shutout
Lackluster quarterback play is largely to blame for the team’s struggles, as
four signal callers have combined to complete 51.1 percent of passes for 2,000
yards, 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Johnny McCrary (967 yards, nine
TDs, seven INTs) has earned the last several starts is the only quarterback on
the team with more touchdowns than interceptions.
Steven Scheu (36 receptions, 463 yards, three TDs), Latevius Rayford (33
receptions, 315 yards, TD) and C.J. Duncan (28 receptions, 441 yards, four
TDs) anchor a modest receiving corps.
The Commodores’ running game has been virtually non-existent (108.5 ypg).
Ralph Webb is the workhorse back with 196 carries, but all that work has only
resulted in 857 yards and three scores.
Vanderbilt’s defense has not been up to par either, as the unit gives up 34.1
ppg and 414.8 ypg while forcing just 11 turnovers in 11 games.
Despite owning the homefield advantage, Vanderbilt has done nothing of late
to hint that it has the ability to take down a conference foe this season.
After a solid season, Tennessee should be able to reward itself with bowl
eligibility with a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tennessee 31, Vanderbilt 20