The Iron Bowl will decide the SEC West champion, with the winner facing Georgia for the conference title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The Tennessee-Vanderbilt game? Let’s just say that the stakes aren’t as high.
The games kick off around the same time (about 3:40 ET in Auburn, 4 ET in Knoxville). Yeah, I don’t expect the TV ratings to be that high for the Vols and Commodores.
Tennessee and Vanderbilt are both 4-7, and the two worst teams in the SEC. They are a combined 0-14 in SEC play.
The Vols are trying to keep away from that eighth loss. Tennessee, along with Ohio State, is the only major college program never to lose that many games in a season.
Tennessee has dominated this series ever since General Neyland showed up, but in recent seasons the pendulum has shifted Vanderbilt’s way. The Commodores have won three of the past five meetings in the series.
Vanderbilt isn’t good this season, but they can move the football a bit. Kyle Shurmur threw for 348 yards in last week’s loss to Missouri. Senior running back Ralph Webb has deserved a better fate this season but remains a weapon. He’s Vanderbilt’s leading career rusher, and last season he ran for 114 yards and two scores in Commodores’ upset of the Vols.
Vanderbilt’s defense has given up at least 38 points six times this season, including 44 to Kentucky two weeks ago and 45 to Mizzou last week. But I can’t imagine similar fireworks on Saturday in Knoxville.
Who will play quarterback for Tennessee? Jarrett Guarantano played every snap against LSU, but he’s not nearly 100 percent. Will McBride didn’t dress for the game against the Tigers, but should be available Saturday. Personally, I’m waiting for the Seth Washington era to begin.
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