NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The latest tradition in the Tennessee-Vanderbilt series is for the Volunteers to win -- barely. The No. 1 Vols are ready to change all that Saturday.
"We'll try to come up with something new and avoid that type of situation this year," said Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin.
"We want to attack them underneath and deep."
Tennessee (10-0, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) already has a berth in the SEC Championship game as the league's Eastern Division champs. But the Volunteers, held to 17, 14 and 12 points by Vanderbilt (2-8, 1-6) the past three seasons, wouldn't mind impressing the Bowl Championship Series rankings with an offensive show when the game begins at 3:30 p.m. EST.
"They have been tough on us offensively ... to get all done what we wanted to get done the last three years," said Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer. "It'll be a great challenge for our offensive team."
The biggest change that might allow the Volunteers to add another victory to their 15-game winning streak over their instate rival is Vanderbilt's defense.
Six players graduated from a Vandy defense that was the SEC's stingiest a year ago, allowing just 275 yards a game. Coach Woody Widenhofer lost a seventh starter to injury before the season, and senior cornerback Fred Vinson hasn't played the past month due to a sprained foot.
Five freshmen start on a defense that is the SEC's worst, giving up 442.3 yards this season.
With the margin of victory a part of the BCS computations and the rivalry, Widenhofer fully expects the Volunteers to try and put as many points on the board as possible.
"They would love to give us a really good whipping regardless of whether the way that operates," he said. "I just think because we played them so tough the last three years we probably did cost Peyton Manning the Heisman Trophy."
The Vols are 28-point favorites as they look to finish off more business. Their latest goal is to go 11-0 for the first time since 1938.
On paper, the game is a complete mismatch. The Vols lead the SEC in rushing and are 14th nationally with 219.6 yards per game, while Vandy is giving up 173 yards on the ground. Vandy has managed to score just 14 offensive touchdowns, while Tennessee is averaging 34.3 points a game.
Travis Henry has led the Vols in rushing the past five games, averaging 5.9 yards a carry.
"I know they're going to be fired up, ready to play the No. 1 team in the nation," said Henry. "They're going to blitz and all that stuff to try to confuse us."
Even though only 15 Commodores are from Tennessee, Widenhofer has tried to impress upon them how important this game is with their instate rival.
He closed practices and has pointed out how Tennessee has won 21 of the last 22 games in the series.
"I use every possible means of anything to get these guys wired and enthusiastic about playing Tennessee and believing they can win," Widenhofer said.
That includes selling the Commodores' season finale as a bowl game and a chance to be noticed.
"It could really make their season and really bring history to this football team," Widenhofer said.
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