The Vanderbilt Commodores (6-4, 3-4 SEC) travel to face the Tennessee Volunteers (4-6, 1-5 SEC) on Saturday, November 23 in SEC East action. The Volunteers had won six straight in this series before falling 18-41 on the road to the Commodores in 2012.

This game at Neyland Stadium is set to kick off at 7:00 EST Saturday night with ESPN 2 providing the television coverage. If you are looking to wager on it, then you will be working with a line of Tennessee -3 over Vanderbilt and a total set of 53.5 points.

Why Tennessee Covers

The Volunteers come in on two weeks of rest having last played on November 9 and in need of a victory. They have to win their final two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky to become bowl eligible, and it’s very doable. It’s also safe to say that the Volunteers will not be lacking any motivation due to the circumstances. That’s especially the case considering they’ll want revenge from an ugly 18-41 loss at Vanderbilt last season.

Tennessee has been smacked in the face by an absolutely brutal schedule. It’s amazing that it was even able to pick up one win in a five-game stretch that has included Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Missouri and Auburn. It played well in home games against both Georgia and South Carolina. It lost in overtime to the Bulldogs by a final of 31-34 as a 13.5-point underdog, and it pulled off the upset over the Gamecocks (23-21) as a 7.5-point dog. Those two games right there really show what this team is capable of.

Vanderbilt is getting way too much respect from oddsmakers due to back-to-back wins over Florida (34-17) and Kentucky (22-6). Both of those scores were very misleading and much closer than they would indicate. In fact, the Commodores were outgained by Florida 183-344, and they only gained 313 total yards in the win over the Wildcats. The reason for the outcomes were that Vanderbilt finish +8 in turnover differential in the two games combined, which is more luck than anything.

Battle-tested and looking forward to facing a much easier opponent than its last five foes, Tennessee will be ready to go Saturday. It has gone 19-2 against Vanderbilt since 1992 in what has clearly been a one-sided series. The Volunteers are 13-3 against the spread in their last 16 games following three or more consecutive ATS losses. Plays against road underdogs (VANDERBILT) – off a home win against a conference rival against opponent off 2 straight losses to conference rivals, allowing 31 points or more are 27-8 (77.1%) ATS over the last 10 seasons.

Battle-tested and looking forward to facing a much easier opponent than its last five foes, Tennessee will be ready to go Saturday. It has gone 19-2 against Vanderbilt since 1992 in what has clearly been a one-sided series.

Why Vanderbilt Covers

The Commodores have been dominant against teams that are Tennessee’s caliber. They have also beaten teams like Georgia (31-27) at home and Florida (34-17) on the road. That’s significant when you compare how the Volunteers fared against those two teams. They lost to Georgia (31-34) at home, while also getting blown out at Florida (17-31) on the road. Common opponents is a great way to compare teams, and they clearly favor the Commodores in this one.

All four of Vanderbilt’s losses this season have come against elite teams in the SEC in Ole Miss, South Carolina, Missouri and Texas A&M. Tennessee is far from an elite team. It is only averaging 24.9 points and 358.6 yards per game, while Vanderbilt is scoring 31.3 points and averaging 371.2 yards per game. Tennessee is also giving up 32.0 points and 434.3 yards per game defensively. To compare, the Commodores are only giving up 26.5 points and 372.5 yards per game. Clearly, the edge goes to the road team on both sides of the ball.

Last year, Vanderbilt beat Tennessee 41-18 at home. It outgained the Volunteers 442-303 in a dominant effort. It compiled 248 yards through the air and 194 on the ground in a balanced attack. The defense limited the Vols to 149 rushing yards and 154 passing yards, picking off Tennessee quarterbacks three times. The Commodores have forced a combined 13 turnovers over their past three games, so at some point you have to give them credit for their ability to get takeaways.

Plays on road teams where the line is +3 to -3 (VANDERBILT) – off 2 consecutive wins by 10 points or more against conference rivals, good team, winning 60-80% or more of their games on the season are 52-21 (71.2%) ATS since 1992. The Commodores are 7-0 against the spread in their last seven November games. Vanderbilt is 9-2 against the number in its last 11 games following a win. Tennessee is 5-14-1 against the spread in its last 20 games vs. a team with a winning record. The Volunteers are 3-13 against the number in their last 16 home games off two or more consecutive losses.

My Early Lean: Tennessee -3