Head-to-head: Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee

Vanderbilt hosts rival Tennessee on Saturday in an important game with bowl ramifications. VandyMania.com compares the two teams in several vital team areas. We also predict the game's final score.

Vanderbilt Passing Offense
Tennessee Passing Defense
Edge: Vanderbilt
Redshirt senior quarterback Jordan Rodgers leads the 'Dores completing 145 for 245 passes for 1,957 yards passing and 9 scores. Rodgers took the 'Dores on a 9-play, 79-yard drive resulting in a 26-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Chris Boyd. Vanderbilt's 218.9 yards passing per game rank 75th in the country and ninth in the conference.

Junior receiver Jordan Matthews tops Vanderbilt with 1,003 receiving yards. His nine receptions for 153 yards and a score against the Rebels made him the fifth Commodore to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Redshirt sophomore Chris Boyd made the game winning reception with 52 seconds remaining to notch the 'Dores third SEC road win of the season. Boyd adds 40 catches for 686 yards receiving and three scores, averaging 68.6 yards per game.

Redshirt junior free safety Byron Moore leads the Tennessee secondary with four interceptions, including three picks in the last seven games. Moore is also second on the team with 81 tackles, and seven passes defended. Senior cornerback Prentiss Waggner is tied for second on the team with two interceptions with six passes defended. The Volunteer secondary is one of the worst in the country, allowing 289.7 yards per game. Last week Tennessee gave up 226 passing yards and four passing touchdowns to Missouri.

Vanderbilt Rushing Offense
Tennessee Rushing Defense
Edge: Vanderbilt
Senior tailback Zac Stacy owns the Commodore's all-time leading rushing total with 2,771 yards. Last week against Ole Miss he was injured on his second carry of the night and left with 17 yards. Redshirt junior Wesley Tate and true freshman Brian Kimbrow split the rushing duties in Stacy's absence, combining for 84 yards rushing. Kimbrow leads the pair with 396 yards rushing, averaging 7.2 yards per rush with three scores. Tate is tied for first on the team with six rushing scores, gaining 295 yards rushing on 83 carries.

Sophomore middle linebacker A.J. Johnson is fifth in the country, and second in the SEC averaging 11.2 tackles per game. Opposing rushing offenses have not been too kind to Tennessee, who gives up a 190.5 rushing yards per game ranking 92nd in the country. Linebacker Herman Lathers has tallied 10 or more tackles twice this season against Mississippi State (12) and South Carolina (15). The redshirt senior is one of two Vols to already earn their degree, and is third on the team with 54 tackles, including 4½ for a loss.

Tennessee Rushing Offense
Vanderbilt Rushing Defense
Edge: Even

Tailback Rajion Neal leads Tennessee with 594 yards rushing and five scores in eight games played. The junior returned two weeks ago against Troy rushing for 32 yards on seven rushes. Last week against Mizzou he led the team with 62 yards on 15 carries. Sophomore Marlin Lane has played in all ten games and started four games in Neal's absence. Lane's 5.1 yards for a rush rank best for players with 25 or more carries. Junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson is a running threat with 23 carries for 270 yards rushing and 3 rushing scores.

The Vols have the eighth ranked rushing offense in the conference averaging 161.1 yards per game behind Vanderbilt who is seventh in the SEC. Junior Vanderbilt defensive end Walker May earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his career high day of six solo tackles and three tackles for loss against Ole Miss. Walker has tallied 31 tackles, including 8 for a loss, and a team-high six quarterback hurries.

The Commodores rank 57th in the country and 10th in the conference allowing 153.4 yards rushing per game. Junior middle linebacker Chase Garnham leads the front seven with 61 tackles, including a team-high 10½ for a loss, and 5½ sacks. The 'Dores were excellent at Ole Miss last week holding the Rebels to 55 yards rushing.

Tennessee Passing Offense
Vanderbilt Passing Defense
Edge: Tennessee
Tennessee's 334 passing yards per game rank first in the conference and seventh in the nation. Vol junior receiver Justin Hunter is third in the SEC in catches per game (6.5) and receiving yards per game (97.9). Junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson has been a monster for the Vols with 39 receptions for 638 yards and four scores. Tight end Mychal Rivera is a big down field threat for Tennessee, ranking third on the team with 30 receptions for 485 yards and four scores.

The Commodore pass defense ranks 14th in the country after giving up 403 yards passing against the Rebels last week. The Vanderbilt secondary has not had the success forcing turnovers of a year ago, with just four interceptions this season. Senior Trey Wilson leads the team with two interceptions, both of which were returned for scores. Opposite Wilson, junior cornerback Andre Hal leads the team with 11 passes defended, adding 41 tackles, including 2 for a loss. Juniors safeties Javon Marshall and Kenny Ladler are tied for first on the team with 65 tackles, two passes defended, and a forced fumble.

Special Teams
Edge: Even

Carey Spear kicked field goals of 22 and 44 yards against Ole Miss. The junior place kicker is having an outstanding season, hitting 15 for 18 field goal attempts without missing a kick inside 42 yards. Senior punter Richard Kent also had a superb night against the Rebels, pinning them inside their 20-yard line four different times. Kent is tied for third in the conference averaging 44.4 yards per punt with a long punt of 67 yards. Jonathan Krause leads the team averaging 7.9 yards per punt return with a 40-yard return for a score against Massachusetts. True freshman Brian Kimbrow has handled kickoff returns for the 'Dores averaging 21.2 yards per return, with a long return of 43 yards. Warren Norman returned his first kickoff in more than two years against the Rebels for 20 yards.

Junior Tennessee punter Michael Palardy ranks seventh in the conference averaging 43 yards per punt, with a long punt of 66 yards. Palardy has also handled the place kicking duties for the Vols hitting 7 of 10 field goal attempts, with a long field goal of 38 yards. Cordarrelle Patterson ranks first in the conference averaging 30.7 yards per kickoff return. Sophomore Devrin Young handles punt returns averaging 9.7 yards per return with a long return of 35 yards.

Edge: Vanderbilt
The 'Dores are 3-2 at home this season with the losses coming to South Carolina in the opener (17-13) and then Florida (31-17) in Week 6. After losing Zac Stacy on the second play of the game, the 'Dores offense could not sustain drives and was held to a pair of first half field goals. Vandy came alive in the second half, coming back from a 17-point deficit to defeat the Rebels 27-26.

Opponents have scored in 81 percent of red zone trips against the 'Dores, with touchdowns in 12 of 32 red zone trips. The Commodores scoring defense ranks fourth in the SEC, holding opponents to 18 points per game. Tennessee opponents rack up 37 points per game, good for dead last in the conference.

Tennessee needs to win its final two games to gain bowl eligibility. The Vols final game of the season is against Kentucky. Opponents have racked up 198 first half points against the Vols and have scored in 97 percent of red zone trips.

The Vols have also had a pretty rough schedule that included Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. The 51-48 loss to Missouri last week was devastating and has resulted in rumors regarding the imminent departure of Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley. Players have heard about it all week and will be trying to bring an extra something for their coach this week against the 'Dores.

Edge: Vandy

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin's Commodores have repeated the improvement seen in 2011, and followed it up nicely with back-to-back bowl seasons. Franklin has placed Vandy beyond many Commodore fans' wildest dreams in his first two years manning the helm. The product on the field is better, the recruiting classes have been some of the best, and he's even gotten the school to pony up for new field turf and an indoor practice facility.

So what is next for Franklin as his second season as head coach winds down? He's already been working hard on it--fan support. Franklin knows success will lead to more fans in the stands, and that an exciting winning product will lead to it. What better way to hasten the fan support than to beat the instate conference school? Vanderbilt fans would be more than pleased, to say the least.

After the loss to Missouri, Derek Dooley may be gone but with a loss to Vanderbilt his fate will be sealed. In his third season as Tennessee's head coach, Dooley has a 15-20 record with one of the best passing offenses in the nation. Trouble is the Volunteer defense cannot stop an opponent from scoring and is ranked 111th in the country.

PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 38, Tennessee 34.

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