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Vanderbilt Commodores
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Recent team reports: 11-21-18 | 11-14-18 | 11-07-18 | 10-24-18 | 10-17-18 |

"Little brother" grows up

Vanderbilt once held a 19-2-2 edge in the series against in-state rival Tennessee. That was back in 1926, the year UT hired Robert Neyland as its coach.

Things changed significantly. The Commodores have never won three straight in the series since, once losing 22 straight times between 1982 and 2004, and have won consecutively just twice.

But, those consecutive wins have come this decade (2012-13 and 2016-17) and now, the Commodores, 3.5-point home favorites in Saturday's rivalry game, could make history.

"Everybody thinks that we're the little brother or little sister... but we've never felt that way," coach Derek Mason said on Tuesday.

Reminders are everywhere near campus that Tennessee is the state school. The Vols have a larger alumni base in Nashville. Tennessee fans are often in the majority at Vanderbilt Stadium, which could be the case again on Saturday.

That's not lost on Vanderbilt offensive guard Bruno Reagan, a Clarksville native, who's aware of the impact of VU's recent success.

"I just know for the most part, from where I'm from, orange runs it," Reagan said. "Coming here, it was nice to get a little bit of a change in that. ... Winning the last couple has definitely a boost for the Vandy fans and the university in general."

A win would get VU to 6-6 and qualify Vandy for just the ninth bowl bid in school history. Four have come this decade. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur sees that as part of the reward for taking care of business on Saturday.

"Getting to a bowl game would mean winning this week," Shurmur said. "Our full focus is wining this week. ... We're worried about UT right now."

The Commodores have won a couple recently in lopsided fashion. One came last year, when Vandy smacked the Vols in Knoxville by a 42-24 count.

But that was last year, when the dumpster fire started by coach Butch Jones continued to blaze two weeks his dismissal. (Brady Hoke was the Vols' interim coach in the rivalry last season.) Under Jeremy Pruitt, the Vols have beaten ranked Auburn and Kentucky teams, and Mason expects a significant challenge this year. The 5-6 Vols are also playing for a bowl.

"This game's going to be about who can make the least amount of mistakes, which team is going to control the line of scrimmage and at the end of the day, who can put it in the end zone," Mason said.





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