It’s been a long yet productive campaign for the Fearless Prediction. We bounced back nicely from our disastrous Missouri over Tennessee pick, only losing the mustard toss game the rest of the way.

For the second straight week, we hit a team total on the nose. We said Tennessee would beat South Alabama 45-14 and the final was Tennessee 60-14.

The Fearless Prediction is currently test driving a Maserati. It might not be roomy enough.

We finish the 2021 regular season with an in-depth look at the Vols’ game against Vanderbilt.

I’d be more excited if Motown super group “The Commodores” were coming to Neyland Stadium instead of the SEC’s Commodores, but this is a good life lesson, kids … you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.

Is Vanderbilt a good football team? No, my friends, they absolutely are not. Vanderbilt enters the season finale with a 2-9 record. Their 2 wins came over a mediocre Colorado State squad and a victory over UConn that required a last-second field goal.

Yes, UConn.

First-year head coach Clark Lea has his work cut out for him to get Vandy to a point where they are somewhat competitive in the SEC. It was a positive sign to see them stay within a couple of touchdowns against Ole Miss last weekend.

Offensively the Commodores have really struggled. Vanderbilt is scoring only 15 points per game. They’ve been shut out twice and failed to tally more than at least 6 points a couple of other times.

Ken Seals and Mike Wright split the quarterbacking duties, combining to throw more interceptions (14) than touchdown passes (12).

Chris Pierce and Will Sheppard are the top targets in that passing game.

Wright is actually 2nd on the team in rushing with 366 yards. Rocko Griffin gets the most traditional carries, and averages a mere 3.6 yards per carry.

On defense, junior linebacker Anfernee Orji has quietly put together a very good season, with a team-high 82 tackles, including 10.5 for a loss. But overall Vanderbilt is ranked 119th nationally in total defense and is allowing over 35 points per game.

If Josh Heupel doesn’t call off the dogs, Tennessee could go for a double nickel.

We’ve spent a lot of time praising Vols quarterback Hendon Hooker, and for good reason. He’s thrown for 2411 yards, with an impressive 24/3 touchdown pass to interception ratio. He’s also rushed for 486 yards with 5 TDs. The Vols are not bowl eligible without him.

On the other side of the ball the Vols are ranked 86th in total defense, which isn’t great, but still a bit better than expected at the season. Linebacker Jeremy Banks deserves all-SEC consideration with a team leading 96 tackles, with 9 for a loss.

It wasn’t long ago that Vanderbilt had the upper hand in this series, winning 5 of 7 meetings between 2012 and 2018. But the Vols have won the past 2 games by a combined score of 70-27, and the rivalry feels like it is heading back to its traditional Tennessee dominance.

A win for Vanderbilt would make their season. Most years that has been the case. I’m old enough to remember Vanderbilt producing a celebration DVD after their win in 2005 snapped a 22-game losing streak. It was titled, “Victory in Knoxville.”

Amazon is selling it for $82.21. That’s American funds.

I don’t think the production crews will be busy this time around.

This will be the final game at Neyland Stadium for the seniors, but thanks to the COVID year exception some of those guys will have the opportunity to come back in 2022. We won’t harp too much on what might or might not happen with players like Hendon Hooker. Either way, the Vols’ veterans have been through a lot the past 4-5 years, and deserve a proper sendoff.

They’ll go out on a winning note.

Fearless Prediction time …

Tennessee 55, Vanderbilt 10