For over 100 years, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have transcended I-40 and played each other in football. Vanderbilt dominated the matchup in it’s formative years, wining 19 of the first 24 games. Since then, Tennessee has posted a 71-9-2 record against their mid-state rivals. Because of this stretch, Tennessee fans often refuse to call Vanderbilt a rival. But Vanderbilt has won four of the last six games between the two teams.
Here are some other stats you need to know before the Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt game on Saturday:
The number of touchdowns scored by Vanderbilt in the fourth quarter of this game last season. Both teams came into the game 4-7 looking for their first conference win. Vanderbilt pulled away late, winning 42-24, putting the nail in the coffin of Tennessee’s worst season ever. Some pundits were even calling it the worst SEC game in recent memory as well, and that might not have been wrong. This years game will be for higher stakes, but more on that in a bit.
Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn is currently rushing for 7.1 yards per carry, leading the SEC among players with at least 65 carries. To make it even more impressive, he has kept that number over 137 rushing attempts. There’s no way around it, Vaughn has been a beast this year. And given how mercurial Tennessee’s defense has been this season, Vaughn could potentially have a big day.
The amount of yards Tennessee punter Joe Doyle has accrued in punts this season, which leads the SEC. By comparison, Jarrett Guarantano has thrown for 1,768 yards and Ty Chandler has rushed for 542 yards. Obviously, this is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your outlook on the world. Either way, Tennessee’s reputation as “Punter U” lives on!
The number of Tennessee quarterbacks that have thrown more than 200 times and given up two or fewer interceptions since the turn of the century. Guarantano has already crossed the 200 pass threshold with 217 passes on the year. If he plays on Saturday and doesn’t throw any interceptions, he will be in pretty rare air as far as not turning the ball over goes. Say what you will about how far he has to throw it or the passes he attempts, but JG has been remarkably efficient this season at not being bad. Remember, before you can be good, you have to stop being bad.
It will only take one more win for either of these teams to become bowl eligible. This is maybe the biggest, most important stat of them all, for both teams, since neither has gone to a bowl game since 2016. Jeremy Pruitt could use a bowl game for more practices. Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason could use a bowl game to help him keep his job. And considering both teams have been hot and cold at times so far this season, it will be interesting to watch how Saturday plays out.