Ralph Webb is on pace to become Vanderbilt's all-time leading rusher, but he'll need to find a way through Myles Garrett and the Texas A&M defense in their SEC clash Saturday in Nashville, Tenn. Webb broke the freshman rushing record for the Commodores a year ago and did the same for the sophomore class last week, leaving him 76 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark for this season.
Garrett leads the SEC with 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss, and the back end of the defense is anchored by free safety Armani Watts, who is four tackles shy of becoming the first Texas A&M player to record 100 tackles in a season since 2010. Kyler Murray took over at quarterback after the Aggies managed just 192 total yards in a 23-3 loss to Ole Miss on Oct. 24, but Kyle Allen is getting a chance to win his job back during practice this week. Tra Carson has helped take some of the pressure off Murray by producing three straight 100-yard rushing games, and Murray or Allen should have one of the team's top receivers, Josh Reynolds, back this week after he was suspended for last week's win against Western Carolina for a violation of team rules. One of the players Murray or Allen will need to look out for is Vanderbilt safety Oren Burks, who earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors last week after intercepting two passes against Kentucky, returning one for a touchdown in the 21-17 victory.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Texas A&M -7
ABOUT TEXAS A&M (7-3, 3-3 SEC): The Aggies have another valuable offensive weapon in kicker Taylor Bertolet, who has made five field goals of 50 yards or more in eight tries this season and is 8-for-12 for his collegiate career from that distance. Christian Kirk showed his ability to bounce back last week after fumbling a kickoff that was returned for a touchdown to tie the score at 14. He responded with two touchdown receptions and finished with nine catches overall for 122 yards. Solid offensive performances will be needed all around for the Aggies, as Vanderbilt has held all 10 of its opponents below their season point average this season.
ABOUT VANDERBILT (4-6, 2-4): One reason for the Commodores' success on the defensive side of the ball has been the play of linebacker Zach Cunningham, who has delivered 10 tackles in each of the last two games and is second in the SEC with three forced fumbles. The offense will need to put up points, however, and it can't depend entirely on Webb. Trent Sherfield showed he is capable of a monster game when he caught 16 passes for a school record 240 yards and a touchdown in a September win against Austin Peay, but he has been mostly nonexistent the second half of the season. In the last five games, he has totaled 10 catches for 104 yards and no touchdowns.
1. Texas A&M is travelling out of state for just the second time this season and its first-ever trip to Nashville.
2. Vanderbilt's defense has forced a three-and-out on 39.2 percent of its opponent's possessions, which is tied for ninth in the nation.
3. Vanderbilt has held its last four opponents, Missouri, Houston, Florida and Kentucky, to an average of 13.6 points and 106.8 yards below their season averages.
PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 26, Texas A&M 24