There have been countless senior classes at Tennessee that have posted four-year football sweeps of Vanderbilt.

Quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Travis Stephens and linebacker Al Wilson never lost to the Commodores during their four seasons in Knoxville. In fact, not a single Tennessee senior class experienced a loss in this in-state rivalry from 1986 through 2004.

Now it's Vanderbilt with the opportunity to defeat the Volunteers four consecutive years for the first time since 1920-23, a stretch that predates the Southeastern Conference's formation by a decade. Derek Mason's Commodores have won the past three meetings by double-digit margins, but his sixth Vanderbilt team is just 3-8 this season, while Jeremy Pruitt's Vols are 6-5 with four consecutive wins.

"We look to play our best ballgame on Saturday," Mason said this week in a news conference. "We've played a couple of solid ballgames. We played a good ballgame against Missouri, but we've got to play our best ballgame Saturday.

"That's the one we have, and that's the one we end on."

Mason took the Commodores to bowl games in 2016 and again last season, but this year's team was doomed by a difficult schedule that contained home games against Georgia and LSU and a trip to Purdue before their first breather against Northern Illinois. An inexplicable 34-10 home loss to UNLV on Oct. 12 saddled the Commodores with a 1-5 record and ended all postseason hopes, though the 21-14 win a week later over No. 22 Missouri -- yes, folks, Mizzou was ranked not that long ago -- prevented this season from being an unmitigated disaster in Nashville.

Vanderbilt has been just as good or better than Tennessee the past two seasons, when the Butch Jones era imploded in Knoxville and Pruitt's first team faded in its final two games, so the Commodores will need a major upset like their 2016 predecessors produced. A 5-6 Vandy stunned an 8-3 Tennessee 45-34 that year in Nashville, but Saturday's game is in Neyland Stadium with the Vols three-touchdown favorites.

"Pride can be a good word, but pride can be a word that sometimes sets you back," Mason said. "I take pride that our team is going to compete in this ballgame, and that's what we've got to do. We've got to play big on a big stage.

"Tennessee has got a good football team. They've got an experienced group and some younger players who are coming along well. (Jarrett) Guarantano right now is playing as good as any quarterback right now in the SEC."

Pasquali's Pix

Georgia at Georgia Tech: Remember when the Yellow Jackets and their triple-option offense almost always led the nation in time of possession? They rank 122nd in that category this season. Bulldogs 33, Yellow Jackets 10.

Ohio State at Michigan: The Buckeyes have won 14 of the last 15 meetings, with the lone exception being that Brady Hoke-Luke Fickell masterpiece of 2011. Buckeyes 31, Wolverines 24.

Clemson at South Carolina: A 5-7 Gamecocks team with victories over Georgia and Clemson would be completely nuts, but that would require an early Christmas miracle. Tigers 41, Gamecocks 16.

Louisville at Kentucky: This has become a sneaky good series, with the Wildcats leading 16-15 but with the Cardinals winning the last four meetings in Lexington. Cardinals 27, Wildcats 24.

Alabama at Auburn: The Crimson Tide lead the nation in turnover margin. The Tigers have a freshman quarterback. Crimson Tide 17, Tigers 10.

Vanderbilt at Tennessee: Never thought this would get typed, but the Vols are striving for a 5-5 decade split against the Commodores. Vols 34, Commodores 9.

Texas A&M at LSU: Joe Burrow's 78.9% pass-completion rate remains on track to top the NCAA's single-season mark of 76.7% set by Colt McCoy of Texas in 2008. Tigers 45, Aggies 26.

Florida State at Florida: Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer never did what Dan Mullen is about to do -- begin his run with the Gators with two consecutive 10-win seasons. Gators 31, Seminoles 20.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.

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