Devil's Advocate

Welcome to Devil's Advocate — Inside Tennessee's version of punch/counter punch — where each week analysts Randy Moore and Jeffery Stewart choose sides and make their cases for our readers' regular amusement and occasional edification. This week Stewart makes the case for Vandy and Moore explains why the Vols will pull the upset.



If you flipped a coin that came up tails 10 times in a row, you'd feel reasonably sure that the 11th flip would be coming up heads.

It's called the law of averages, and it applies to football, as well as coin flips. The Tennessee Vols have stunk offensively for 10 games in a row. Surely, the law of averages suggests they'll have a breakout game this weekend at Vanderbilt. That likelihood is increased by the fact the Commodores rank ninth among the 12 SEC teams in pass defense, ninth in rushing defense and 10th in total defense.

The law of probabilities isn't the only factor in Tennessee's favor Saturday afternoon at Dudley Field, however. Consider:

- The Vols have won 24 of the last 25 meetings, many by lopsided margins.

- No matter how bad Tennessee is, it finds a way to win against Vanderbilt.

- No matter how good Vanderbilt is, it finds a way to lose against Tennessee.

- The Commodores tend to fade in the season's second half as their injuries mount and their depth gets depleted. Right on cue, they've lost four of their last five this year after a 5-0 start.

- Vanderbilt is coming off an emotional defeat of Kentucky that secured its first non-losing season and its first bowl bid since 1982. Does the term "flat as a pancake" come to mind?

- The Commodores are 3-point favorites against Tennessee. They normally implode when faced with that kind of pressure.

- The Vols are 3-point underdogs to Vandy. They normally rise to the occasion when faced with that kind of insult.

- This will be Phillip Fulmer's last game in Middle Tennessee — his birthplace — as the Vols' head man. He'll be up for this one.

- Last, but not least, George Cafego will be watching from Heaven, silently cursing the Commodores on every play.



Does it take a whole ot of convincing to make a case for Vanderbilt getting a rare victory in this one-sided intrastate rivalry? Granted it's only happened once in the last 26 years but Tennessee hasn't lost seven games during a season in 31 years so 2008 is hardly the norm on The Hill.

It's also been 26 years since the Commodores were invited to a bowl game. They are qualified with a 6-4 record but have lost four out of their last five games and aren't assured of a winning season. So there's still a lot at stake for the Dores who never seem to require any added motivation when playing the hated Big Orange.

By contrast the Vols seemed deflated against a weak Wyoming team on homecoming two weeks ago and have nothing to play for but pride. If that was a motivator we would have seen it long before now.

Vanderbilt has home field advantage at Dudley Field where it has gone 3-2 this season. The Vols are still looking for their first road win and after defeats at UCLA, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina this is their last chance. The question is if Tennessee couldn't beat Wyoming in Knoxville two weeks ago what chance does have to beat Vanderbilt in Nashville where Auburn and South Carolina both went down in defeat?

The answer is not good. The offense still hasn't shown any signs of life and Jonathan Crompton is 1-4 as a starter, 0-3 on the road. Entering in relief of a beleaguered Nick Stephens against Wyoming, Crompton had flashes of the talent that made him one of the most sought after prospects in American four years ago, but Vandy's defense presents problems the Cowboys didn't. The Vols have been especially susceptible to the blitz and the Dores have an excellent blitz package. Since the Vols have problems making pre-snap adjustments they can expect to be attacked relentlessly.

On the other side of the ball Vanderbilt has a quarterback on Chris Nickson who is difficult to pressure and has the mobility to extend drives.

Maybe this is the day the Vols offense finally gets it going, but with one week left in the 2008 campaign the sand in the hourglass are running out.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories