The Vols became bowl eligible Saturday night by getting their 6th win of the season as they defeated Vanderbilt 31-16.
Tennessee started strong on offense moving the ball easily down field and scoring on their opening possession. The added a field goal to go up 10-0 early. But, Vandy came back and tied the game early in the second quarter. The Vols turned up the volume after that scoring 14 unanswered points and taking a 24-10 halftime lead.
The Vols offense in the first half looked pretty good, but they came out rather flat in the second half and managed no points. The only Tennessee score in the second half was a Wes Brown 25-yard interception return for a TD late in the 4th quarter. Overall, however, the offense managed enough to overpower Vandy. Jonathan Crompton went 20/34 for 221 yards and 2 TD. Senior running back Montario Hardesty carried 32 times for 171 yards.
After playing very well all season the Vols defense faltered some Saturday night. Of course they were playing with a third-string middle linebacker and a walk-on outside linebacker. The defense had some trouble, just as they did against Ole Miss, stopping the running game. Vandy managed 123 yards on the ground and another 174 through the air.
In the end, despite a less than stellar second half performance, the Vols came out on top and became bowl eligible. Now, there is just one regular season game remaining next Saturday night in Lexington against the Kentucky Wildcats. Tennessee has a good chance to win that game and finish with a respectable 7-5 record. However, I won’t count Kentucky out. That team has improved throughout the season, and this game will not be easy. I hope (and believe) that the Vols will come out of there with a win.