What you Need to Know: Tennessee @ Vanderbilt
Photo Credit To UT Media Relations

What you Need to Know: Tennessee @ Vanderbilt

Via UT Media Relations
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee wraps up its regular-season schedule on Saturday with an in-state showdown at SEC East rival Vanderbilt in what will be a battle for bowl eligibility.
Kickoff for Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt Stadium is set for 4 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. The game can also be streamed live on WatchESPN.com or on your phone, tablet and other electronic devices via the ESPN app. Dave Neal (play-by-play) and D.J. Shockley (analyst) will have the call with Dawn Davenport reporting from the sidelines.

Vol Network radio affiliates will have a live audio broadcast with Bob Kesling, Tim Priest and Brent Hubbs. Locally, the game can be heard on WIVK 107.7 FM. It will also be carried on Sirius XM satellite radio (Channel 381).

The Volunteers will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak to the Commodores and become bowl in their first season under the direction of head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Need to Know

Battle for Bowl Eligibility 
Saturday’s contest will have a little extra on the line as both teams enter the game with identical 5-6 records, one win away from securing a bowl bid.

Nation’s Toughest Schedule
According to Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings on SB Nation, the Vols have played the toughest schedule in all of college football through 12 weeks this season. Tennessee has played seven games against teams that have been ranked at some point this year. UT has also played five teams that are ranked in the top 15 of this week’s College Football Playoff Top 25: No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia, No. 11 Florida, No. 13 West Virginia and No. 15 Kentucky.

Pinpoint Accuracy
Tennessee starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has been one of the team’s most consistent performers this season, and his accuracy throwing the football has played a major part in his success. Guarantano ranks fifth among SEC starting quarterbacks in passing efficiency (147.8) and completion percentage (64.5%). The New Jersey native has also been extremely proficient at protecting the football, having thrown 148 consecutive passes without an interception, which is a program record. Guarantano has set career highs this season in completions (140), passing yards (1,768) and passing touchdowns (11).

Blocked!
The Vols have blocked five kicks this season, which ranks second in the SEC and is tied for fifth in the country heading into Saturday’s rivalry game.

UT Blocked Kicks in 2018

Upset City
UT’s 24-7 upset victory over then No. 11 Kentucky on Nov. 10 marked the program’s second win over a ranked opponent this season. The Big Orange also defeated then No. 21 Auburn on the road back on Oct. 13. The Vols are one of just nine teams in college football this season that have won two or more games against ranked opponents while being unranked.

Series History: Vanderbilt
Saturday will mark the 112th meeting all time between the Volunteers and Commodores, which is the second-most played series in UT history, trailing only Kentucky (114 meetings). Tennessee boasts a 75-31-5 record all time in the series, including a 37-19-4 mark in Nashville. The Big Orange won 22 consecutive games between the two programs from 1983 to 2004 but have dropped the past two meetings and four of the past six.

About Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt comes into Saturday’s game playing some of its best football of the season with two wins in its last three games, including a 36-29 overtime victory over Ole Miss last weekend. The Commodores, led by fifth-year head coach Derek Mason, rely on an experienced offense as well as an opportunistic defense.

On the offensive side of the ball, Vandy features a balanced attack that relies heavily on senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur and redshirt junior running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Shurmur is in his third year as the full-time starter and has been one of the most productive passers in the SEC this season, ranking third in the league with 20 touchdown passes and fifth with 2,477 passing yards. His favorite target is junior wideout Kalija Lipscomb, whose 73 receptions and nine touchdown catches rank second in the conference. Redshirt junior tight end Jared Pinkney has also been a key weapon in the Commodores’ offense with 41 catches for 658 yards and six touchdowns.

Vaughn has been a workhorse on the ground for VU with 138 carries for 976 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. A transfer from Illinois, Vaughn’s 97.6 rushing yards per game ranks third in the SEC and 25th nationally.

The Dores have struggled defensively this season as they enter Saturday’s game ranked 13th in the conference in total defense (436.0 ypg). However, they have proven to be an opportunistic unit, forcing 20 takeaways this season, which ranks third in the league and 23rd nationally.

Senior linebacker Jordan Griffin has been a bright spot for the Vanderbilt defense, ranking second in the SEC with 106 total tackles. He also has five pass breakups and leads the team with two forced fumbles. Junior corner Joejuan Williams is the leader of the secondary with 54 tackles to go along with a team-high nine pass breakups and four interceptions.

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