After averaging 37 points a game through its first 10 games of the season, Tennessee struggled to find a rhythm offensively.
Vanderbilt had no such issues during a 21-0 third-quarter run that put the game all but out of reach for Tennessee.
Trailing by three points at halftime, Tennessee stumbled out of the gate in the third quarter, going three-and-out to the start the second half.
Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews took an end around 47 yards for a touchdown on the Commodores’ third play, giving Vanderbilt a 20-10 lead.
Tennessee’s next drive ended early, when Andre Hal intercepted Tyler Bray and returned the ball to the UT 4. Two plays later, tailback Wesley Tate threw a 3-yard jump pass to Kris Kentera for a touchdown and a 27-10 lead.
After two quick scores, Vanderbilt went on an 11-play, 59-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard run by Zac Stacy on a direct snap that put Tennessee in a 24-point hole.
In the third quarter, Tennessee managed just one first down, a 30-yard run by Marlin Lane on its final possession of the quarter. Vandy stopped UT on fourth down four plays later, though, ending the drive at the Vanderbilt 32.
Cordarrelle Patterson provided Tennessee’s lone score of the second half on an 81-yard punt return with 6:15 remaining. Patterson has now scored touchdowns by rushing, receiving, kickoff return and punt return this season.
Vanderbilt (7-4, 5-3) took a 3-0 lead on its opening drive, set up by Stacy’s 72-yard run on Vandy’s opening play from scrimmage.
Tennessee pulled ahead 7-3 early in the second quarter when a 59-yard drive ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Bray to Zach Rogers.
After a Vandy three-and-out, the Commodores intercepted Bray on a tipped pass two plays into UT’s next drive. That turnover led to a field goal — and it also led to an appearance by backup quarterback Justin Worley.
Worley’s first drive ended when Hal intercepted his pass and took it to the UT 17. Rodgers connected with Chris Boyd for a 13-7 lead that the Commodores never gave up.
Worley returned for the final possession of the first half and led the Vols 51 yards for a field goal with 14 seconds left in the first half.
Vanderbilt’s win was its first over Tennessee in Nashville since 1982, and it marks the Commodores’ second victory in the series’ last 30 games.
Tennessee, meanwhile, falls to 4-7 and 0-7 in SEC play. Tennessee will not be bowl eligible for the second consecutive season.
The Vols host Kentucky on Saturday at 12:21 p.m. (TV: SEC Network) in the season finale for both teams.