3. Vanderbilt Commodores
Saturday, Nov. 27; Neyland Stadium; Knoxville, Tenn.
We almost had the Vanderbilt Commodores as a circled win for Tennessee football. They were historically bad last year, going 0-9, and they are undergoing a coaching change, from Derek Mason to Clark Lea. We should also note that the Vols blew them out when the two faced off in Nashville in December. Simply put, there’s no reason to believe Vandy will win this game.
However, a few things make this above a circled win and more important than even the likely losses. For starters, Vandy has been more competitive with UT in recent years. They are 5-4 against the Vols the past nine years. Even before that, Vandy always gave UT a fight.
Then there’s the SEC and rivalry factor that the other circled games don’t have. The Vols should take Vandy seriously and, like the Kentucky Wildcats, take pride in reasserting their dominance over their in-state rival. Those two things alone make it require more focus.
As a likely SEC win, this is a game UT can’t throw away. The Vols, as we mentioned, have to run the table against every team they can beat, and Vandy is one of those teams. That makes it more important for them to focus on this game than any of those likely losses that they could potentially steal on a good day.