Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#219 Tennessee vs.
#220 Vanderbilt
Saturday, November 26, 2022 at 7:30pm EST
Written by Eric P.

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The Vanderbilt Commodores play host to the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday night in a crucial SEC tilt from FirstBank Stadium. The Volunteers are coming off of losses in two of their last three games, including a shocking defeat last week at the hands of South Carolina. For Vanderbilt, back-to-back SEC upsets suddenly has this group on the verge of a bowl game bid. Tennessee has won three straight in the series and while it seems likely they will make it four straight in this one, on the road in the SEC is never an easy task.

Volunteers Aim To Bounce Back

Losses in two of their last three games have the Volunteers reeling to try to end the season with a crucial win. While the Commodores aren't the most daunting of opponents, there's little doubt that Tennessee can't take them easy. The road has seemed to be one of the only issues for this group this season, where they sit at 2-2. Now they have to remain on the road for the second-straight week and third time in four weeks, which the coaching staff will be hoping doesn't impact this group. With an impressive bowl bid on the cusp of occurring, the Volunteers know that they need to find a way to close out the season strong.

The main story for this group is the injury to Hendon Hooker (knee). The Heisman hopeful went down last week and as one of the most explosive quarterbacks in the country, it'll be interesting to see how Tennessee aims to replace him. A few other injuries could impact them from a depth perspective, though nothing that would impact this group like the injury to Hooker.

Tennessee's offense has impressed as one of the best in the country this season, though being without Hooker could change everything for this team. They come into this one ranked first nationally in total offense and scoring offense, with most of their damage coming through the air. Even though Hooker is out, Tennessee still has one of the most dangerous wide receiver rooms in the country, with Jalin Hyatt (15 touchdowns) leading the way. Joe Milton III expects to get most of the snaps at quarterback and while not nearly as explosive as Hooker, he has experience from his time with Michigan to avoid being impacted by the road atmosphere in this one.

Commodores Eyeing Bowl Berth

Expected to barely grab any wins this season, the Commodores have impressed without a doubt this season, suddenly finding themselves only one win short of bowl eligibility. Getting that win against Tennessee expects to be a challenge, though, with a home-field advantage that has only gotten stronger as the season has progressed, it isn't going to be easy for the Volunteers. The Commodores aren't any stranger to being an underdog, coming in as 20-point underdogs in each of their last two games. Each of the last two weeks has seen this group not let the underdog status impact them negatively at all, which is the same mindset as they stay home and welcome another tough opponent in this one.

AJ Swann (lower body) is questionable at quarterback in this one, after leading the team for much of the season under center. His absence hasn't seemed to hurt this team, especially with the slight change at quarterback, but his name remains one to keep track of. Being without another running back and wide receiver appears to only hurt from a depth perspective and overall, this team seems healthy coming into the finale.

Despite the wins that have come of late, the Commodores still look like they'll struggle to match up with Tennessee on both sides of the ball. Establishing a run game early will be key and likely their only path to victory, especially with some of the concerns surrounding their own passing attack. The defensive shape is what fans will have their eyes on in this one. The Commodores rank 125th nationally in total defense and are one of the worst nationally against the pass. Even without Hooker on the other side, this group will be hard-pressed to slow down a Tennessee team that is filled with talent elsewhere.

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Tennessee has struggled the last few weeks but this seems like an opportunity primed for them to make a statement against their in-state rival. Even without Hooker, this group is filled with talent and advantages all over the field. Milton III is one of the better backups in the country and with this being a crucial moment for him to prove his own skillset, he won't let this moment getaway. Tennessee's offense will be able to carve up Vanderbilt but unlike what happened last week, the Commodores won't be able to do the same to the Volunteers, especially through the air. Additionally, according to covers.com, Vanderbilt is 1-5 ATS in their last six games following a straight-up win, while the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these two teams.

Prediction: Tennessee (-14)

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Despite Tennessee's high-flying offense, this is likely to be a lower-scoring affair between the two sides. Milton III is more of a run-first quarterback and while he is sure to hit some shots deep, moving the ball on the ground and playing it safe might be more within the game plan, especially early in this one. For Vanderbilt, their offense has struggled all season despite getting to five wins. Establishing the run and keeping their defense off the field is the best strategy toward a win in this one, which should drive down Tennessee's scoring opportunities as well. Additionally, according to covers.com, the under is 6-2 in the last eight meetings between these two teams at Vanderbilt.

Prediction: Under 64
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Written By Eric Ploch , "Eric P."

Eric grew up surrounded by sports, whether it was spending the weekend catching games in person or on tv, or heading out to the fields to play whatever sport was in season. What started as a hobby, soon became a passion, as he became the sports editor of his high school newspaper, then wrote for his university newspaper during his undergrad years. After obtaining a degree in Sports Operations and Promotions, and spending 8 years deeply immersed in the sports world, Eric decided to take his love for analytics and predictions, and his experience, to online sports fans everywhere. James is now an integral part of our team here at StatSalt and has also been a very successful sports bettor over the years. Be sure and follow him daily.