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Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt: Rocky Top Talk Staff Predictions

Which SEC East team will get its sixth win and a bowl berth?

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee finishes its 2018 regular season on Saturday against in-state rival Vanderbilt. Both Tennessee and Vandy sit at 5-6, so the winner of this year’s matchup will earn a bowl bid.

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano and Marquez Callaway have been repeatedly described as “day-to-day” by Jeremy Pruitt after suffering injuries last week against Missouri. Vanderbilt is a 3.5-point favorite in Nashville.

Conner Knapp: Vanderbilt 26, Tennessee 17

(Season: 8-3)

It gives me no pleasure saying this, but I will say it nonetheless: Vanderbilt is better than Tennessee.

The Commodores will have several NFL talents on the field against a Tennessee team whose quarterback is pretty banged up and which is coming off an embarrassing home loss. Vanderbilt will be ready to go at home — the Commodores are trying to defeat the Vols in three straight years for the first time since the 1920s — and I’m just not sure Tennessee will be able to match up defensively with Vanderbilt’s balanced offensive attack.

Terry Lambert: Tennessee 31, Vanderbilt 28

(Season: 8-3)

Vandy’s defense has given up 29+ points in six of seven SEC games. Assuming Jarrett Guarantano plays, the Vols should approach that number. My issue is on the other side of the ball. Will Tennessee be able to stop the run consistently? I’m not sure they will, but I think they’re able to hang offensively.

The gap between Guarantano and Chryst is pretty large. JG’s knowledge of the offense and ability to get in the right plays would have made a difference last week, I think. The Vols bounce back here, thanks to an inconsistent rushing attack showing up ready to play.

Noah Taylor: Tennessee 30, Vanderbilt 27

(Season: 7-4)

The outlook of where Tennessee would finish in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season changed drastically in a 50-17 loss to Missouri last week.

The Commodores will be another tough match up, especially if Jarrett Guarantano and Marquez Callaway are not available for the Vols on Saturday. But even if they are not, the defense-who gave up nearly 500 yards of offense against Drew Lock and Missouri-will be facing another seasoned quarterback in Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur, who tossed for three touchdowns in their last outing. Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn in another player who is electric when he’s on the field. Vaughn was responsible for 127 yards and a score versus Ole Miss. He’s rushed for over 125 yard in their last three games.

If Guarantano and Callaway play, the offense can score just enough to win the game. But can the defense slow down Vanderbilt? That will be the difference. I think this one will come down to a late field goal.

Evan Winter: Tennessee 26, Vanderbilt 24

(Season: 9-2)

The Commodores are talented but not Missouri-talented. Kyle Shurmur can’t hit the deep ball which will play into the Vols’ hands as they plan to stop Keyshawn Vaughn.

Jeremy Pruitt’s coaching staff will also play a big role in this one, restoring order in the state of Tennessee.

Austin Burlage: Tennessee 21, Vanderbilt 17

(Season: 8-3)

At the time of writing both Jarrett Guarantano and Marquez Callaway are day-to-day with injuries suffered in the Missouri loss last week. Tennessee will need both of those guys if they want to stay competitive against the Commodores on Saturday. Vanderbilt plays decent defense, and they are particularly good at forcing turnovers. On the other hand the Tennessee defense is improving every week, and I have faith that they will bring their best effort on Saturday. By all accounts playing in a bowl game is extremely important to the players and coaching staff. I think this will be a low scoring battle, but Tennessee will do just enough to pull out the win.