Tennessee football vs. Vanderbilt: 10 keys to the game

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Tennessee defensive backs Jaylen McCollough (22) Trevon Flowers (1), and and Theo Jackson (26) celebrate Flwoers fumble recovery during the NCAA college football game between Tennessee and Ole Miss in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, October 16, 2021.
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9. Third down offense of Vandy vs. third down defense of Vols

This plays off of the last key. Vanderbilt’s route to beating Tennessee football is two-fold. They first have to cut out the big plays. Then they have to have one of their games where they actually control the ball to keep the Vols’ offense out of rhythm. A key way to do that is converting on third downs to keep long drives alive.

Luckily for Vanderbilt, UT has a horrendous third down defense. The Vols allow teams to convert third downs 44.3 percent of the time, which is ranked No. 110 in the nation and next to last in the SEC, with only the Missouri Tigers behind them.

Unfortunately for Vandy, though, they have a horrendous third down offense, only converting 32.6 percent of the time, which ranks No. 120 in the nation and dead last in the SEC. With those two stat lines, something has to give in this game.

Kentucky hung with the Vols because they converted so many third downs, which is why they dominated time of possession. As a result, Vanderbilt needs to win this matchup more than UT does, but one of these teams has to break the trend, and if Vandy is the one to do it while not allowing big plays, we might have a game

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