The Tennessee Vols (5-6, 2-5 SEC) are set to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-8, 0-7 SEC) at Dudley Field this Saturday at 3:00 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.
This will mark the 109th all-time meeting between the two teams, with Tennessee leading the series 73-30-5.
It’s been reiterated all week. One more win and Tennessee is bowl eligible.
The past two seasons, however, Tennessee has had their bowl game hopes dashed by the Commodores, but are looking to rebound this season and get the win.
On what has been a week led by upperclassmen, Brian Randolph says the team is not worried about the past, but looking forward to Saturday.
“We’re just trying to worry about this year,” Randolph said in Monday’s media session. “We’re not trying to look back, cry over spilt milk. We’re just trying to go out there and play the best that we can.”
Breaking the two-game losing skid to Vanderbilt is important, but Jones says that will not validate his program, insisting the team is simply fighting for win number six.
“It’s not validation or anything like that,” Jones said on Monday. “The next game is very important. We’re fighting for victory number six. It’s going to be a great challenge. Vanderbilt’s going to play their best.”
Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason is looking to salvage a disastrous first season as the Commodores’ head man. The team has yet to win a conference game and managed to barely squeeze out wins against teams such as UMass, Old Dominion and Charleston Southern.
Mason believes his team is responding well to the rivalry, despite the lackluster year for the program.
“They have taken the challenge and I think this football team is looking forward to a great contest this Saturday,” Mason said on Monday. “We know that we have a good opponent coming in here. There is no love lost between these two teams. This football team feels like they have something to prove and I’m sure the team out east feels they have something to prove as they are trying to get bowl eligible.”
This will be Senior Night for the Commodores. One such senior is center Joe Townsend, who has been a stalwart for Vanderbilt’s offensive line throughout his career.
“This is our bowl game,” Townsend said. “This is our last game. I know that this is my last time to play college football and I plan on leaving everything I’ve got on that field like I have the last four years. I want my team to go out with a victory, and that’s just the mindset right now.”
Butch Jones agreed that Saturday will be one of the biggest games of the season.
“It is a big game for a number of reasons. It is a big game because it is the last regular season opportunity that our seniors will have,” Jones said. “It is a chance to build momentum in moving forward. Which we have tremendous momentum. We are fighting for bowl eligibility. It is an in-state rivalry game. So there is a lot on the line.”
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