Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Live Stream: WatchESPN
- 8-3 record
- 25th F+ ranking
- 5-6 record
- 63rd F+ ranking
Saturday night, the Tennessee Volunteers travel to Vanderbilt Stadium to take on their rival the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vandy is 3-1 at home this season while Tennessee sports a 1-2 record on the road.
The outcome of this game likely revolves around three questions.
Can Tennessee’s skill positions go for 430 yards or more? Tennessee’s offense has faced its fair share of setbacks this season, but has still averaged 37 points and 430 yards per game this season. Running backs Alvin Kamara and John Kelly provide a solid 1-2 punch, while quarterback Joshua Dobbs is a threat scrambling. Meanwhile, receivers Josh Malone and Juaun Jennings are each credible deep ball threats. Vanderbilt’s defense declined from last season, and are now allowing 5.77 yards per play.
Is Vanderbilt’s offense for real now? If it is, that would go a long way to returning the fire from Tennessee’s offense. The Commodores averaged 5.63 yards per play against Missouri, and last week versus Ole Miss averaged 6.33 yards per play. Tennessee’s defense is probably better than both those teams, but not by much this season, and especially not by much if only considering its play the last two weeks against Missouri and Kentucky. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur looks comfortable, and running back Ralph Webb may still be the Commodores’ best weapon.
Which team is the most motivated? Talent takes precedent, but talent without motivation leaves itself vulnerable to upsets. Tennessee is currently an eight-point favorite, but their hopes of winning the SEC East were terminated last week when Florida beat LSU. Tennessee could still finish the regular season 9-3, but it’s probably fair to say there has been some degree of turmoil with the team this season. Will they be motivated to take care of business against Vanderbilt, or will the Commodores play well early, gain confidence, and make this a tight game heading into the fourth quarter?
Inquiring minds would like to know.