1. Coming off last week’s 51-48 loss in a four-overtime heartbreaker to Missouri, Tennessee (4-6, 0-6 SEC) needs to win its final two games to become bowl eligible. After today’s cross-state rivalry with Vanderbilt (6-4, 4-3), the Volunteers host Kentucky in the game on Nov. 24. Tennessee and Kentucky are the only two Southeastern Conference Eastern Division teams without a conference win this season. If they fail to make a bowl game, it would be the second straight season the Vols spent the holidays at home. Last year’s team just missed out on bowl eligibility, finishing 5-7.
2. Despite the Vols’ frustrating season, quarterback Tyler Bray has been on a roll in the last three games. He was 37-of-54 for 404 yards and no interceptions against Missouri last week. Bray accumulated 530 yards passing against Troy the previous week and 368 yards against South Carolina the week before that. That’s a total of 1,302 yards in the air for him. Part of Bray’s success may center around the few amount of sacks he’s suffered. The Volunteers have allowed five all season, ranking them second nationally in sacks allowed, behind Air Force, which has allowed three.
3. Derek Dooley, 15-20 at Tennessee, including 4-18 in the SEC, spent much of his weekly news conference fielding questions about his future with the Big Orange. Dooley told reporters he talked with athletics director Dave Hart, who told him no decision had been reached. One of the biggest problems is Tennessee’s defense, which continues to give up big numbers. The Volunteers are 111th in total defense, surrendering 480 yards per game, and 110th in scoring defense, giving up 37 points per game. Going into four overtime sessions against Missouri didn’t help those numbers. The Tigers had 28 points in regulation, which would have been the lowest total allowed since Tennessee downed Akron 47-26 on Sept 22.
4. The Volunteers have dominated Vanderbilt in the series history, leading 73-27-5, including six straight wins and 28 wins in the last 29 games. Last year’s game was close, with the Volunteers winning 27-21 in overtime. This is the 105th meeting against Vanderbilt, which is the second most contested rivalry for the Vols. Tennessee has played Kentucky 107 times.
Tyler Bray QB, Jr., 6-6, 215
It’s tough not to give it to Bray, who again came up with big passing yards against Missouri. Granted, receivers Justin Hunter and Mychal Rivera deserve credit as well, combining for 270 yards receiving.
Vanderbilt defense vs. Vols quarterback Tyler Bray: Bray is putting up impressive numbers these days, with the Volunteers averaging 334 yards passing per game. That ranks Tennessee tops in passing in the SEC and seventh nationally. Vanderbilt is third in the conference and 14th nationally in pass defense, giving up 177 yards per game.
1: The number of times Tennessee has won in its past 14 SEC games. The win was against Vanderbilt, 27-21, last year in overtime.
13: Believe it or not, the amount of games it took in the series before Tennessee posted a win against Vanderbilt, defeating the Commodores 16-14 in 1907. Vandy started out 11-0-1 in the series, and it’s been pretty much all orange since.
18: Total passing yards Missouri quarterback James Franklin managed in the first half against Tennessee last week, before ending up with 226 yards.
226: Amount of passing yards Franklin had by game’s end.
40,550: Capacity of Vanderbilt Stadium. Although it’s Vanderbilt’s home game, Tennessee fans tend to take over the stadium in this series.
This Commodore team is coming into the game on a hot streak, having won four in a row and clinching bowl eligibility for a 6-4 record. They are awfully hungry against a struggling Vol team, but it’s a must-win for Tennessee.
Tennessee 30, Vanderbilt 27