We at InsideTennessee love a good debate. That's why we think you'll enjoy Devil's Advocate. Each week one staffer presents evidence why Tennessee will win/beat the spread, while another staffer offers a spirited rebuttal on behalf of the opposing team.
Here are this week's arguments:
VANDY'S VENGEANCE IS OVERDUE
By Randy Moore
Tennessee was 0-8-1 in its previous nine meetings with Alabama when the Vols trotted onto Birmingham's Legion Field in October of 1995. Vengeance was sweet and abundant as the Big Orange scored on the game's opening scrimmage play and went on to romp 41-14.
As desperate for vengeance as Tennessee was in '95, one can only imagine how desperate the Vanderbilt Commodores will be when they take the field at Neyland Stadium Saturday night. They stand 1-27 in the last 28 meetings with the Vols.
Will Vandy vengeance be as sweet and abundant as Tennessee's was versus Alabama in '95? It could happen. Comparing scores against Arkansas alone tells us that.
Vanderbilt (5-5 overall, 2-5 SEC) lost 31-28 to the Hogs on Oct. 29 after blowing a chip-shot field goal that should've sent the game into overtime. Two weeks later Tennessee (4-6 overall, 0-6 SEC) was hammered by the same Razorback team 49-7.
Simply put, the Vols are bad. They are averaging just 9.7 points per game in SEC play and haven't scored a second-half point in the past five games against any foe. Their passing attack is erratic and their ground game is missing in action. Their defense gave up six touchdowns last weekend and their special teams qualify for federal disaster relief.
Just about the only glimmer of hope Tennessee has going into this game is the home-field advantage, and that could be negligible. The Vols are 22-26 over the past four seasons, and the natives are getting restless. Many fans are enraged after watching the team seemingly quit in the fourth quarter of the Arkansas debacle last weekend.
It's a safe bet that there will be 20,000-35,000 empty seats at Neyland Stadium Saturday night. Here's another safe bet: If Tennessee gets off to a slow start more fans will be booing to vent their frustration than will be cheering to show their support.
Make no mistake: Vanderbilt is good enough to beat the Vols. And, with the revenge motive figured in, the Commodores just might be good enough to beat the Vols the way Tennessee beat Alabama in '95 ... soundly.
PASSION RETURNS TO THE ORANGE & WHITE
By Danny Parker
While the perspective of the 1995 Tennessee-Alabama game used by my opposition in this edition of Devi's Advocate was an interesting one, it's totally invalid for one main reason. Two words: Peyton. Manning.
Vanderbilt doesn't have a Manning suiting up to save the day in Neyland Stadium. It does have a tie to the hottest quarterback on the planet right now and a Rogers, but it's not Aaron, it's Jordan.
People are worried to death that Jordan Rodgers is going to pick the Volunteer secondary apart. That won't happen. This version makes a majority of his plays with his feet, not his arm.
When the Vols have loaded the box to slow down the opposition's running game, they have been mostly successful doing so, including holding Trent Richardson and Alabama to 143 yards on 38 carries.
Flipping to the other side of the ball, Tennessee is set to welcome back starting quarterback Tyler Bray, who won't be sharp and will likely get back to slingin' the pigskin with a glove on his right hand. However, the offense simply seeing No. 8 in the huddle again should re-energize the bunch.
If there are indeed 20,000-plus empty seats it will be a sad time for Big Orange Country as every fan should take the opportunity to show his or her thanks to this group of seniors that stood firm behind the school and organization in spite of one of the more troubling times Tennessee has had in decades.
Can't see that being the case and the fire in the belly of what few seniors that do play should give the Vols that extra edge to take down their in-state rivals.
Check out the video below to see an up close look that only InsideTennessee brings you of the Vols coming out onto the field prior to kickoff.