2. Vanderbilt Commodores
Despite losing to the Vanderbilt Commodores three years in a row, Tennessee football has a better chance of beating them at home next year than they do the BYU Cougars at home or the Kentucky Wildcats on the road. That’s because of the state of the teams.
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Vandy, to be fair, does return a ton of talent. But they lose Kyle Shurmur, the guy who has torched the Vols for years. And replacing him is not going to be an easy task. As a result, UT is in much better position to win this game.
But Vanderbilt is a toss-up like all these other toss-up games going back to the Mississippi State Bulldogs. And as an SEC East matchup at home, they are a toss-up opponent the Vols need to focus heavily on.
If Jeremy Pruitt is truly going to lead the Vols back to the top of the East, he’s got to remind Vanderbilt who Vanderbilt is. Derek Mason has done a good job with that program, but there should be limitations on what they can do.
Beating Vandy puts the Vols on the right track to get to six wins. Losing, however, makes that more of an uphill climb. Obviously, losing to the Commodores at the end of last year kept them out of a bowl game. But since this is the last game of the year, set for Nov. 30, we’ll already know what the Vols are playing for when the two square off.
Add in the fact that Vanderbilt is an in-state school and has made this a rivalry again by winning three straight games, and there’s no way to ignore the importance of this game. The Vols need to make sure they are ready to pull out this victory.