This game is sink or swim for the Tennessee Vols.
With a win over Vanderbilt, Tennessee can put itself in position to go to the Sugar Bowl. If UT loses to Vandy, it would an ugly bow on a very disappointing season on Rocky Top.
Vanderbilt is playing much better as of late. It sets up for a tough matchup at Neyland West, I mean, West End.
SPREAD: Vols -7.5 OVER/UNDER: 53
QB Josh Dobbs, Sr. – 171/285 passing, 2,315 yards, 24 TDs, 660 yards rushing, 9 TDs
RB Alvin Kamara, Jr. – 86 rushes, 496 yards, 7 TDs, 25 rec, 274 yards, 3 TDs
DE Derek Barnett, Jr. – 11 sacks (1 away from Reggie White’s school career record – 32), 17 tackles for loss, 48 total tackles
#7 RB Ralph Webb, RJr. – 208 carries, 1,058 yards, 10 TDs
#6 WR/RB Darius Sims – 248 yards rushing, 8 yards per carry
#41 LB Zach Cunningham – 109 tackles (leads SEC), 16.5 tackles for loss, 3 fumble recoveries
Out run, out pass, out gain and out score…
The Vols want this game to be a complete and utter shootout. High flying, wheeling and dealing, points all over the board. Tennessee has shown it can come out with victories when the game is up and down the field. Vandy has not.
This means exploiting a Vanderbilt defense that is known to be stingy and disciplined. The Dores pride themselves on a red zone defense that is currently ranked second in the country in that category. Dobbs & Co. need to get into the end zone, early and often.
The Big Orange offense is averaging 55 points per game in their last three games. If the Vols get to 40 first, they’ll win.
On the other side of the ball, it’s about run defense. This is a spot where Tennessee has struggled in recent weeks and is the pride of the Vanderbilt offense. Keep Ralph Webb and Khari Blasingame in check and under 150 yards on the ground, Butch Jones’ team will be in good shape leaving the Music City.
Offensive carryover from Ole Miss & containing Dobbs…
Kyle Shurmur may have turned a corner in last week’s, 38-17, victory over Ole Miss. He put together his most effective game to date, throwing for over 250 yards and tossing two touchdowns. Shurmur even hit a big play down field with a 67 yard catch and run from wide receiver Trent Sherfield.
If Vandy can get the same kind of production through the air, it has a chance of upsetting its in-state rival.
Look for playmaking WR Darrius Sims to make an impact. Last week, Sims had 101 combined rushing and receiving yards. He’s versatile and sometimes takes snaps from the wildcat formation. Sims can gash the Tennessee offense, that has been suspect in recent weeks. The Vols have given up a whopping 1,375 yards of total offense in the last two weeks. Over 860 of those yards have been on the ground.
Vandy’s main problem has been offensive production, but with a struggling Volunteer defense, the Dores could have a big day for a second consecutive week.
Defensively, the number one priority has to be containing Josh Dobbs. The Commodore defense hasn’t seen many true duel-threat QBs this year, and they never seen anything like Josh Dobbs. Linebacker Zach Cunningham has to be a tackling machine on Saturday.