2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 12 - Tennessee at Vanderbilt
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Nov. 19 at Tennessee 27 … Vanderbilt 21 OT
CFN Analysis: Ehhhhhhhh, it was a win, but it was a controversial one. Eric Gordon made the play with a 90-yard pick six to win the game, and it was up to the officials to figure it out. After the smoke cleared, it was a cathartic moment for a team that just has to hit the two-foot putt against an awful Kentucky team to go bowling. … Tyler Bray was rusty. The Vanderbilt defense is great at forcing mistakes, and it showed with two interceptions and a pick six while keeping the Vol passing game under wraps. The big difference with Bray, though, was that his presence opened things up for the ground game. Tauren Poole finally got room to move with the safeties staying back a bit. … Da'Rick Rogers deserves All-SEC honors. Vandy focused on stopping him and failed, allowing ten catches for 116 yards and two scores.
Vandy can be ticked all it wants about how the game ended, but Jordan Rodgers threw the pick in the first place to all but end the fun. He also threw two other interceptions and the team turned it over four times. … The ground game didn't work against a normally porous Tennessee defensive front. Zac Stacy couldn't get in the clear at all. … Richard Kent had a huge game with three punts for 152 yards and one put inside the 20. … With three losses in the last four, it's been a tough second half of the season. It's a one game playoff for a bowl, needing to beat Wake Forest to get it done. To win, the turnovers that proved so costly this week have to stop. Rodgers has to be sharper and far more careful.
(AP) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Eric Gordon intercepted a pass by Jordan Rodgers and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown in overtime as Tennessee escaped Vanderbilt with a 27-21 win on Saturday night.
The Vols (5-6, 1-6), who had not won a Southeastern Conference game all season, ran across the field and mobbed Gordon -- a Nashville native -- in the end zone. The coaches called them back to the sideline after the officials ruled Gordon's knee touched the ground at Vols 10.
A replay showed Gordon's knee did not hit the grass, and the officials overturned it on review, ending the game.
Twice last season, Tennessee thought it had pulled out a win in the closing seconds of the game only to see its fate changed because of penalties.
Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was seen skipping through the press box after the game, shouting "We finally got a break!"
A 20-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Chris Boyd gave Vanderbilt (5-6, 2-6) a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee made it to fourth-and-goal at the 5 on the next drive, and coach Derek Dooley called for a 23-yard field goal attempt. Sean Richardson appeared to block the attempt but was penalized for running into kicker Michael Palardy.
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin asked for a review of the play, but the officials maintained that Richardson had not touched the ball before hitting Palardy's leg. Tennessee got another chance at the 2-yard line, and this time Dooley opted to go for it.
The decision paid off. Tyler Bray threw to Da'Rick Rogers, who stretched his right hand out to reel the ball in to his chest as Casey Hayward covered him. The touchdown tied the game at 21 with 6:27 to play.
After the teams traded punts, Vanderbilt drove the ball with confidence it hadn't shown all half, picking up three first downs. But the drive stalled when Prentiss Waggner intercepted a pass from Rodgers at the Vols 35.
Tennessee was unable to move the ball before the fourth-quarter clock expired.
Bray was 16 of 33 for 189 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first game back after breaking his right thumb Oct. 8 against Georgia. The cast on Bray's throwing hand was removed Nov. 7, and the quarterback returned to practice a week later.
Rogers caught 10 passes for 116 yards and the two touchdown throws from Bray, and became Tennessee's seventh receiver to have at least 1,000 yards in a season. Tauren Poole had 107 yards on 19 runs and a touchdown.
Rodgers was 17 of 32 for 193 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Jordan Matthews had 74 yards receiving, and Boyd had 66 yards receiving and a touchdown. Zac Stacy ran for another score.
Vanderbilt was favored by 1 1/2 points in the game, but Tennessee has now won 28 of the last 29 in the series.
The Commodores had a chance to become bowl eligible against Tennessee and now must beat Wake Forest next week for a chance to go bowling for just the fifth time in history.
The Vols needed a win over Vanderbilt coupled with a victory at Kentucky next week to keep from missing out on a bowl for the second time in the past four seasons.
Vanderbilt (5-5) at Tennessee (4-6) Nov. 19, 7:00, ESPNU
Here's The Deal … It doesn't matter that Vanderbilt has gone 2-5 in SEC play and it doesn't make a difference that Tennessee has yet to win a game in conference action. It doesn't matter that the two are mediocre teams in an awful division, and it doesn't matter that they're each still at least a season away from getting close to where they want to be. For one game, it's about keeping bowl hopes alive for Tennessee, and it's about establishing a foundation with a sixth win and bowl eligibility for Vanderbilt.
The Vols can be forgiven for their problems with key injuries and the nastiest schedule in the SEC East, but there's still time to find something positive in a disastrous conference season. The 20-12 loss to Georgia was the closest they've come to anyone in the conference, failing to score more than seven points in any of the last four SEC games, and now is when things are supposed to ease up. It's Senior Day, with a good home break after getting blown away by Arkansas, and with a win, a bowl is all but assured with a miserable Kentucky team left to finish things up. But beating Vanderbilt is no sure thing.
The Commodores have a good enough defense to be more than just competitive, and with quarterback Jordan Rodgers, the offense is starting to find more of a spark after doing next to nothing early on in losses to South Carolina and Alabama. First year head coach James Franklin has done a tremendous job of setting the right attitude, and the team has responded. The losses to Georgia, Arkansas, and Florida could've all gone the other way, and the drillings of Ole Miss and Kentucky showed the Commodores have changed for the better. With a trip to Wake Forest to close, a win now could be a must to get to a bowl for the first time since 2008 and the second time since 1982.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: Tennessee just can't find anything to go right on offense, and things are getting worse. The running game continues to be a disaster, even though the line is doing a nice job in pass protection, and the quarterbacks aren't producing with Tyler Bray out of the equation. Even against Middle Tennessee, the offense couldn't get any sort of a push for the ground game because defenses aren't scared of anything happening deep. Arkansas put everyone up and dared Justin Worley to make plays, and while he did, completing 15-of-29 passes for 208 yards and a pick, it wasn't nearly enough to keep up.
Vanderbilt's defense has feasted off of bad offenses, doing a great job of taking the ball away when needed, and generating a good enough pass rush to throw the average SEC quarterbacks off their games. The Commodore front seven doesn't get pushed around against the run, and it won't this week, either.
Why Tennessee Might Win: Yeah, the Vanderbilt defense worked, but that was against Ole Miss and Kentucky. The Commodores do a lot of things right, but they don't have a consistent ground game to rely on. The stats on the Tennessee defense look worse than the actual team's talent; this is the game for the front seven to step up and produce. There isn't much of a pass rush to count on, but the run defense is fine against average offensive lines and it should force Vanderbilt to revolve everything around Rodgers and the passing game.
The defense is doing a nice job of taking the ball away lately with five picks in the last four games, after coming up with one in the first six, while forcing four fumbles in the last three games after coming up with three in the first seven. The defense is making a more concerted effort to make things happen to make up for the woeful offense, and it should be able to come up with at least three takeaways this week.
What To Watch Out For: Because of the family name and because his game is improving to make a name for himself, Jordan Rodgers is starting to play like Green Bay Packer brother with 200 yards or more in each of his last three games while cutting down on the mistakes. After throwing five picks in his first three games of real work, he has thrown just one in the last three games to go along with five touchdown passes and three rushing scores. He'll be a big deal this offseason.
It's the last home game for Tennessee's Tauren Poole, and now he needs some room to run. He could be an Arian Foster-like breakout player at the next level once he gets consistent blocking, but this year he hasn't been able to breathe, getting bottled up for 554 yards and four scores after cranking out more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. He's a speedy back who could work as a third down playmaker early on in the pros, but for this week, getting his third 100-yard game of the year is a must for the Vols to have any shot of keeping the dream alive for a 13th game.
What Will Happen: Tennessee just doesn't have a passing game. Vanderbilt's defense isn't a rock, but it's good enough to load up and stop Poole and make the Vols try to air it out. The Commodore secondary has been great at times at coming up with big picks in key moments and will do enough to stop the middling UT offense from taking control. Rodgers will be terrific, and that'll be enough to overcome Vandy's own offensive shortcomings.
CFN Prediction: Vanderbilt 24 … Tennessee 20
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Vanderbilt 1.5 O/U: 44.5
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