NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt and Tennessee renew their longstanding rivalry Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The Commodores and Volunteers have met 113 times dating back to 1892 and Tennessee leads the series 75-33 – the programs have also tied five times. Vandy has won three in a row and five of the past seven dating back to 2012.
Tennessee (6-5) has won four straight coming into Saturday after a 2-5 start. Vanderbilt (3-8) is coming off a 38-0 win over East Tennessee State.
Here is more on how to tune in to Saturday’s contest as well as five key matchups to watch at Neyland Stadium:
When: 3 p.m. CT Saturday
Location: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee
Television: SEC Network
Broadcast Crew: Dave Neal (play-by-play), D.J. Shockley (analyst), Dawn Davenport (sideline)
Streaming: Available via the WatchESPN app
Radio: Vanderbilt radio network WLAC AM 1510 Nashville and on the TuneIn app; SiriusXM 381 and 190, streaming channel 970 and 961
Weather: 56 degrees at kickoff, cloudy, 80 percent chance of rain
1. KEEPING GUARANTANO AT BAY
Jarrett Guarantano, a redshirt junior, struggled for the better part of the 2019 season. But his leadership and play-making in recent weeks has helped Tennessee put together its four-game winning streak.
Guarantano is 54-for-88 for 906 yards and a 7-to-1, touchdown-to-interception ratio over the last four games.
Vanderbilt’s defense will have to find a way to get Tennessee’s quarterback to move from the pocket and to make him feel uncomfortable. Guarantano was 13-for-29 for 139 yards with a touchdown and an interception in last year’s loss to Vandy.
2. AVOID THE PICKS
Only six teams have more interceptions than the Volunteers.
Senior Nigel Warrior and sophomores Bryce Thompson and Jeremy Banks have combined to make nine of Tennessee’s 14 interceptions this season. Vanderbilt, as a team, has been picked off 10 times in 11 games.
Vandy’s Riley Neal, in his college finale, must protect the ball at all costs and make sharp decisions in the passing game.
3. THIRD DOWN STOPS
Despite ranking 101st in scoring (23.9 points per game), Tennessee hasn’t had a tough time sustaining offensive drives. The Volunteers have converted their third downs 43.2 percent of the time this season.
The Commodores have allowed teams to convert on the crucial down 38.4 percent of time – a stellar mark compared to the rest of the country. They’ll have to be in that same neighborhood Saturday to keep UT from gaining momentum.
In Vandy’s three wins this season, opponents have gone 11 of 43 (25.6 percent).
4. MAKING SPECIAL TEAMS SPECIAL
Tennessee has blocked two punts this season, is allowing just 15.5 yards per kickoff return and is among the top five nationally in punt returns. The Volunteers have also had three players return a punt for a touchdown and kicker Brent Cimaglia is making 1.8 field goals per game.
In a game expected to be close toward the end, special teams could tip the balance one way or the other. Vanderbilt senior Ryley Guay would love a chance to factor in the decision as well.
5. BIG THREE FINALE
Vaughn left last year’s Vandy-Tennessee game with an injury after six carries for 25 yards. The Nashville native would like nothing more than to put up bigger numbers than that this Saturday.
Pinkney caught his first two touchdown passes of the season last week and both he and Lipscomb had big games against the Volunteers last year. Expect that duo and Vaughn to be heavily featured Saturday.