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GAMEDAY IN NASHVILLE – Commodores defense on key in rivalry win

There was plenty at stake for the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday night.   Sitting at 5-6, the Dores needed a victory over in-state rival Tennessee to assure bowl eligibility.  Despite this being a road game, Volunteer fans outnumbered the local squad by at least a two to one margin  The Volunteers were a solid touchdown favorite.  The Vanderbilt fans remained optimistic, as many pointed out that Tennessee had given up 420 yards rushing the week before to Missouri.


Vanderbilt football began in 1890 when 13 players comprised the football team.   Elliot H. Jones served as both the captain of the team and the head coach.   They played one game that season defeating Nashville Peabody Normal School 40-0.   Jones continued his role with the team through 1892, compiling a 8-5 record over three years.  In 1894 the school joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association.   The Commodores dominated the (SIAA) winning or sharing 12 conference titles.  In 1933 Vanderbilt joined the Southeastern Conference.


  • The Commodores claim two national championships.  Earned in 1921 and 1922, those teams went a combined 15-0-2.
  • Vanderbilt has never won an SEC title.
  • Dan McGugin is the winningest head coach at Vanderbilt, serving from 1904-1917 and 1919-34.  His record as head coach was 197-55-19, and besides the two national titles, his teams won or shared 11 conference championships.  He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.
  • The Commodores won their first ever bowl game in 1955 defeating Auburn 25-13 in the Gator Bowl.
  • Five Commodores are in the College Football Hall of Fame.   They include Josh Cody, Lynn Bomar, William Spears, Carl Hinkle, and John J. Tigert.
  • Quarterback Jay Cutler won the SEC Offensive Player of the Year award in 2005.


Mississippi and Vanderbilt, both founding members of the SEC, have a rivalry that is older than the conference.  The Rebels lead the series 50-39-2, but Vanderbilt beat the Rebels 91-0 in 1915, for the largest victory margin.

The rivalry with Tennessee is the longest running rivalry.  These two teams have met a total of 108 times, beginning in 1892, when the Commodores defeated the Volunteers 22-4.   The Commodores ran off an 11-0-1 mark, before finally losing 16-14 in 1914.   Since 1928 the Volunteers have dominated the series going 73-11-2.

img_1716THE GAME

Quarterback Kyle Shurmur threw for a personal best 416 yards and two TDs, while the Vandy defense stiffened in the second half, allowing the Commodores to stun the 17th-ranked Volunteers, 45-34.  The first half was dominated by Tennessee, as Alvin Kamara accounted for three touchdowns, providing the visitors with a 31-24 advantage.   Darrius Sims scored on a three-yard run with just over 12 minutes left in the fourth to give the Commodores their first lead of the game. Ralph Webb put the game out of reach with a 28-yard scamper late in the quarter.  The 45 points scored by the Commodores was the most they have scored against an SEC opponent since 1971!


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