The 6-5 Tennessee Vols look to end their regular season on a high note by taking care of the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-9) in their rivalry clash. Here are the three keys to a Volunteer win.
By Steve Wright
1 – Blow it open
The Vols put up 60 points last week, the second time this season that they have hit the 60-points plateau. The Josh Heupel offensive scheme calls for tempo at a rate no one else in the SEC – or even the country plays at. One thing Vanderbilt has always been able to do, however, is play the Vols close. Even in the Peyton Manning years – years where the Vols were at the top and the ‘Dores at the bottom – the games were close. This one doesn’t need to be. The line is -31.5 for a reason and as soon as the Vols are two scores ahead this one will basically be over.
2 – Offensive balance
If the explosion in the first quarter does happen and the Vols get out ahead early, then the rest of the game becomes about balance. The Vols are fourth in the SEC in rushing at 205 yards per game, sixth in the league in passing with 255 yards per game, and that leads to an offense that scores 35.5 points per game, the third-most in the league. The Vandy defense will be no match for this assault in different areas of the field.
3 – Nullify Vandy’ effort
One thing that has been noticeable about Vanderbilt this season is how they haven’t given up when behind in games. They should have beaten one – or both – of South Carolina and Mizzou as they were in both contests until late in the fourth quarter. Last week against Ole Miss they were a late Red Zone pick away from making it a one-score game and testing the Rebels’ ability to close out a game. This is not a team that will give up on their first-year head coach Clark Lea and that makes them more dangerous than most teams that are four-touchdown underdogs.