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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Vanderbilt Stadium (40,550) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: Tennessee 3-3, Vanderbilt 3-2. Away Record: Tennessee 0-3, Vanderbilt 3-2. Neutral Record: Tennessee 0-0, Vanderbilt 0-0. Conference Record: Tennessee 0-6, Vanderbilt 4-3. Series Record: Tennessee leads, 73-27-5.
GAME NOTES: The Tennessee Volunteers will try for their first road victory as well as their first SEC win on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Nashville to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Tennessee had a golden opportunity to win its first conference game at home last week against SEC-newcomer Missouri, as it held a 14-point halftime lead, but it eventually lost in four overtimes, 51-48, to fall to 4-6 on the season. It was a rare November defeat for the Vols, who are now 40-12 in the month since 2000. They will need to win their remaining two games to become bowl eligible.
In an SEC where six teams are currently ranked in the top-12 of the latest AP Poll, it's easy to overlook a team like the Commodores, who have quietly been one of the hottest teams in the nation with four straight wins. They became bowl eligible following last week's come-from-behind win on the road against Ole Miss, 27-26. Vanderbilt's four conference wins are its most since 2008.
Tennessee has a firm grasp on the all-time series versus Vanderbilt, 73-27-5, which includes wins in six straight meetings.
It's safe to say that the Vols' struggles have not come because of a lack of offense. They have put up 37.9 ppg on nearly 495.1 ypg, and they've had five games of 500 yards or more, which is the most they've had in a season since 1997 when Peyton Manning was their quarterback.
Tyler Bray has been the SEC's most explosive passer, as he's racked up 3,216 yards and 29 touchdowns through 10 games. He was fantastic once again last week, throwing for 404 yards and four touchdowns. He leads all active SEC quarterbacks with 12 career games with at least 300 yards passing.
Justin Hunter ranks third in the SEC in both catches (65) and receiving yards (979) and his eight receiving touchdowns are tied for the most in the league. Cordarrelle Patterson has also been a potent threat with 39 receptions for 638 yards and four touchdowns, as has Mychal Rivera (30 receptions, 485 yards, four TDs), who is coming off a career-game with 10 receptions for 129 yards and a score against Missouri.
Rajion Neal (594 yards, five TDs) and Marlin Lane (475 yards, two TDs) have both been used to great effect in the backfield. The pair are also strong receivers, combining for 41 catches.
The Tennessee defense has let down the potent offense all season long, as it allows a league-worst 37 ppg and 480 ypg.
A.J. Johnson is one of the top tacklers in the nation with 112 stops to go along with 4.5 tackles for loss. Byron Moore has been active in the secondary with 81 tackles and a team-best four interceptions. Eric Gordon and Prentiss Waggner each have two picks.
The Vanderbilt offense may not be as explosive as Tennessee's, but its scoring average of 25.6 ppg in a conference filled with top-notch defenses is more than respectable.
Jordan Rodgers is coming off his best game of the year yardage wise, putting up 267 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-35 passing, which included the game- winning 26-yard scoring strike to Chris Boyd with under a minute remaining. On the season, Rodgers has completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,945 yards with nine touchdowns against only three interceptions.
Jordan Matthews is one of the few receivers in the conference having a better year than the Vols' Hunter, as he sits with 70 receptions for 1,003 yards and five touchdowns. His 153 receiving yards a week ago was a career-high and he currently ranks seventh on the school's all-time receiving yards list (1,967). Boyd (40 receptions, 686 yards, three TDs) is enjoying plenty of success opposite Matthews.
Zac Stacy is the program's all-time leading rusher, and he has 769 yards and six touchdowns this season, but he needed to leave last week's game with an injury. If he cannot go, Brian Kimbrow (396 yards, three TDs) and Wesley Tate (295 yards, six TDs) will split carries.
The Commodores defense can go toe-to-toe with any unit in the hard-nosed SEC, and they allow just 18 ppg and 330.4 ypg.
Kenny Ladler and Javon Marshall lead the team with 65 tackles apiece, while Ladler has also added a sack and an interception. Chase Garnham has a team- high six sacks, and Trey Wilson has a pair of interceptions. With six tackles and three tackles for loss last week, Walker May won SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors.
Despite piling up the points, Tennessee continues to find ways to lose conference games. Playing on the road against a tough defense, figure the Vols to falter once again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vanderbilt 31, Tennessee 28
11/14 10:44:21 ET
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