KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Losing to Vanderbilt, perhaps the ultimate insult for a Tennessee football player.
The Vols’ Team 121 — what’s left of it — has all sorts of motivation to defeat the Commodores in Saturday’s 4 p.m. game at Neyland Stadium.
The 2017 Vols are trying to avoid becoming the first Tennessee team in history to lose eight games in one season and the first to go winless in the SEC since the league formed in 1933.
Tennessee (4-7, 0-7 SEC) is a 1-point favorite to win what the Vols’ players now refer to as an “in-state rivalry” against Vanderbilt (4-7, 0-7).
Tennessee, for the second consecutive season, ranks among the most injured teams in the nation.
By the end of Saturday night’s 30-10 loss to LSU, the Vols were without 15 injured former starters, and three offensive lineman played who hadn’t taken a snap the first eight games of this season.
The concept as the Commodores as Tennessee “rivals” once drew jeers during a 22-game Vols’ win streak.
But the laughter stopped in 2005, when the Commodores beat a 5-6 Vols’ team, 28-24, in Neyland Stadium, snapping the program’s proud streak of 16 straight bowl trips in the process.
“Three out of the last five years,” Vanderbilt linebacker Oren Burks said at SEC Media Day on Tuesday at the Wynfrey Hotel, referencing the Commodores’ recent success against the Vols, “I’d say it’s a rivalry.”
It’s the first time Vanderbilt beat Tennessee three times in a five-year span since 1920-1926, leading to the Vols’ hiring of Robert Neyland.
Tennessee football vs. Vanderbilt football
(last five meetings)
- 2016: Vanderbilt 45, Tennessee 34
- 2015: Tennessee 53, Vanderbilt 28
- 2014: Tennessee 24, Vanderbilt 17
- 2013: Vanderbilt 14, Tennessee 10
- 2012: Vanderbilt 41, Tennessee 18
After Vanderbilt upsets Tennessee, Commodores coach Derek Mason yells, “THIS IS OUR STATE.” pic.twitter.com/q1hMvidvxS
— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) November 27, 2016