The No. 10 Tennessee Volunteers are virtually eliminated from the College Football Playoff after losing to unranked South Carolina last week, but they have a chance to finish out their regular season with a win when they visit 5-6 Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
The Vols not only dropped their second game of the season in Columbia, but they lost Heisman Trophy candidate Hendon Hooker to an ACL tear early in the fourth quarter of the 63-38 rout. Senior quarterback Joe Milton III filled in and completed 4 of 8 passes for 108 yards and a 21-yard touchdown strike with under two minutes remaining in regulation.
Now the Vols, who own the No. 1 offense in the nation, will try to keep their high-flying attack intact with a new quarterback on the road.
The Vols are 14-point favorites against a Commodores team they have beaten the last three years, but Vanderbilt is riding a wave of momentum at the moment. Can the ‘Dores build upon their two-game win streak and become bowl-eligible in the final game of the regular season? Below are our best free college football picks and predictions for Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt.
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt best odds
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt picks and predictions
The Volunteers came out flat from the start against South Carolina, who beat a Top-5 team for just the seventh time in program history and scored its most points in an SEC game since the Gamecocks put up 65 against Mississippi State in 1995.
The 63 points South Carolina racked up on Tennessee were also the most the Vols have ever surrendered in an SEC game.
While facing the third-worst pass defense in college football, South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler — a former Heisman candidate at Oklahoma — threw for 438 yards and six touchdown passes. He entered the game with eight touchdowns, nine interceptions, and an average of 198 yards per game on the season.
Rattler finished the evening completing 30 of 37 passes and caught a pass from wide receiver Dakereon Joyner, while South Carolina reached paydirt on nine of its 11 drives and gained 606 total yards after recording fewer than 300 yards in three of the past four games.
Tennessee’s offense was just 5-for-12 on third down and put up 507 yards with one turnover — a lost fumble by Hooker when he went down with injury.
Milton averaged 13.5 yards per pass once he entered the game and ran for 17 yards on two carries.
Under his guidance, the Vols offense will confront a Vanderbilt squad that ranks one spot below Tennessee in passing defense. The ‘Dores give up 303.2 yards per game, the second most in all of FBS, with only Ohio permitting more.
Against Florida, Vanderbilt allowed 400 passing yards to Anthony Richardson in the 31-24 upset. But the run defense kept the Gators to just 2.1 yards per carry, and Florida was held to 4-for-15 on third down.
Vanderbilt QB Mike Wright was 10 of 16 with 108 yards and three passing touchdowns, while the rushing attack put up 175 yards, including 122 by senior running back Ray Davis.
The win came on the heels of Vanderbilt achieving its first SEC win in 26 games when the ‘Dores beat Kentucky 24-21 on the road and marked the first victory against Florida in eight games in the series.
It’s also the second straight SEC win for Vanderbilt for the first time since 2018, when the ‘Dores defeated Mississippi and Saturday’s opponent, Tennessee. With one more victory, Vanderbilt can also become bowl-eligible for the first time since that 2018 season.
While the Commodores will be fired up against a spiraling Vols team, Tennessee is the superior squad, even without its starting quarterback.
Milton should be able to launch a few deep passes on this Vanderbilt secondary and record at least one touchdown to start the first quarter. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, has failed to record points in the opening quarter in three of its last five, including last week’s meeting with Florida, who held the ‘Dores to 94 yards in the first frame and zero yards on their opening drive.
My best bet: Tennessee 1Q -5.5 (+105 at DraftKings)
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Tennessee vs Vanderbilt spread analysis
The spread opened between 14 and 17 at most sportsbooks earlier in the week and has settled at 14 by the time of this writing.
The Vols began the season 6-1 against the spread, but in have covered just once, against Missouri, in their last three.
Vanderbilt was 1-5 ATS to start the season and has turned a corner, going 3-1 ATS since.
In the head-to-head series, the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five matchups, but Tennessee is 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings at Vanderbilt and 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings overall.
Last season, Tennessee beat Vandy by 24 in Knoxville and won by 25 in Nashville in 2020. The Commodores last won in a 38-13 victory in Nashville in 2018, the first of Jeremy Pruitt’s brief three-year tenure as Tennessee’s head coach.
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt Over/Under analysis
The points total for this contest is 64 at most books.
The Over has hit in seven of the Volunteers’ 11 games, but Tennessee has seen the Over hit just once in four away games.
The Under is 5-6 in Vanderbilt’s matchups this season, but the Over is 4-1 at home. The Under has also hit in four of the Commodores’ last five conference games, while it’s 5-2 in Tennessee’s last seven road games versus teams with a losing home record.
The average points total in the last six head-to-head matchups is 59.8, with the last three games in Nashville averaging 63.
Tennessee and Vanderbilt own the two worst pass defenses in the SEC, but the Vols are much sturdier against the run, allowing 108.9 rushing yards per outing. The Commodores rank eighth in the SEC in rushing yards surrendered with 153.5. Tennessee has talent in the backfield, with Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small tallying 626 and 617 yards, respectively, this season while combining for 18 rushing scores.
Milton’s ability behind center will determine a lot of this game. He was the starter to begin the 2021 campaign before he got injured in the second matchup of the year, which made way for Hooker to earn the starting job.
Milton will make his second start for Tennessee on Saturday and is a capable quarterback who can keep the Vols dangerous through the air. If he can stay composed and find a rhythm on offense, the Vols should run away with a victory and keep their high-flying pass attack humming, helping push the total Over for the sixth time in the last eight meetings between these teams.
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt betting trend to know
Vanderbilt is 8-22 ATS in its last 30 home games. Find more NCAA betting trends for Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt.
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt game info
|Location:||FirstBank Stadium, Nashville, TN|
|Date:||Saturday, November 26, 2022|
|Kickoff:||7:30 p.m. ET|
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