It has been a tough week for No.10 Tennessee (9-2, 5-2), coming off its second loss, as its Heisman candidate quarterback Hendon Hooker tore his ACL. On the other hand, Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-5) has won its last two games, winning back-to-back SEC games for the first time since 2018. The Commodores need one win to be bowl eligible.
Last week the Volunteers were dominated by South Carolina 63-38 as the defense was riddled. Before Hooker left the game, it was not his best performance. The Commodores pulled off their second straight underdog win, beating Florida 31-24l.
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt Betting Lines
Tennessee Defense Needs To Play Better
The most important question heading into this week’s game is who will be the starting quarterback? Hooker had been the leader of an offense with the best yards and points per game in the nation. He had set himself to be a prime Heisman Trophy candidate. Replacing his production will likely be impossible.
However, giving up 63 points to South Carolina is something more in Tennessee’s control. It seemingly came out of nowhere, as before last week, the South Carolina offense was in the bottom half of the SEC. The Volunteers’ did allow 49 points to Alabama earlier in the season but held Georgia to just 24 in their other loss.
The defense gave up 606 yards and 453 through the air as opposing quarterback Spencer Rattler threw six touchdowns. Compared to the other top-ranked teams in the SEC, the Volunteers have the worst defense, giving up the third-most yards in the conference and 25.6 points per game. Those numbers could be misleading because of last week, but they are still not great for a highly-ranked team.
Vanderbilt Opportunistic Play
The last two games have changed Vanderbilt’s season after losing the first five in SEC play. It looked like the season wasn’t going to get much better when starting quarterback AJ Swann suffered an injury, putting Mike Wright back into the role.
That seems to have been what the team needed, as Wright has played well enough to win the last two games. He had 108 passing yards against Florida but three throws went for touchdowns. Wright is also a threat on the ground; against Kentucky, the first win of the streak, he rushed for 126 and a touchdown.
Running back Ray Davis has also left his mark on games, rushing for over 120 yards on at least 20 carries in the last three games.
On top of that, the defense has been the definition of opportunistic. The two turnovers they caused last week led directly to touchdowns. One was a fumble returned for a score, while the next was an interception, which was a touchdown pass from Wright the next play.
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt Game Injuries
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt Head-to-Head
Tennessee has won the last three games against their instate rival, including back-to-back by over 20 points. However, not that long ago, Vanderbilt won three straight between 2016-2018.
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt Game Information
- Game: Tennessee vs Vanderbilt
- Date/Time: Saturday, November 26, 7:30 p.m. EST
- Location: FirstBank Stadium, Nashville, TN
- How to watch Tennessee vs Vanderbilt? ESPN
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt Live Stream: ESPN
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt Picks & Prediction
Tennessee has the better players, but based on the last game, this rivalry game might be closer than one would have expected three weeks ago. Losing Hooker changes the Volunteers’ dynamic offense, and even with Vanderbilt having one of the worst defenses in the SEC, it can come with big plays.
The same thing can be said about the Commodores’ offense, as they are doing just enough to win the last two games. They should be able to do that again to not lose by two touchdowns.