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AP photo / Chad Morris lasted less than two seasons as football coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The two Southeastern Conference football programs with 0-4 league records this season will collide Saturday when Vanderbilt visits Arkansas.

It's also a matchup of the two SEC teams playing a ninth game in nine weeks. Every other league member already has experienced a week off or — in the case of Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss — is having that luxury now.

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Vanderbilt football coach Derek Mason has seen early leads against league opponents disappear the past two weeks as the Commodores seek their first SEC win of 2018.

OTHER PICKS

Boston College 29, Miami 22

Clemson 34, Florida State 19

West Virginia 48, Baylor 31

Duke 25, Pittsburgh 24

Louisville 31, Wake Forest 26

Wisconsin 23, Northwestern 20

Utah 26, UCLA 17

Virginia 30, North Carolina 28

Oklahoma 52, Kansas State 17

Penn State 27, Iowa 23

Houston 21, South Florida 18

MTSU 24, Old Dominion 21

Washington 20, California 13

Stanford 35, Washington State 30

N.C. State 28, Syracuse 27

Oregon 43, Arizona 36

Texas 36, Oklahoma State 29

"Nine games in nine weeks for a football team like ours, whose roster doesn't look like everybody else's, is a challenge for sure," Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said Wednesday. "Even with the new redshirt rule, you still can't substitute the idea of being able to get a break in the middle versus a late break. These guys have had midterms that were strenuous, so we've had to account for that as coaches as well.

"It will come at the right time now, because it's when we get it, but would I have taken it a couple of weeks ago? Absolutely."

The Commodores are 3-5 overall and almost swept their nonconference schedule, falling 22-17 at Notre Dame on Sept. 15. They have taken a 21-3 advantage over Florida and a 7-0 lead over Kentucky in their two most recent games, only to lose 37-27 and 14-7, respectively.

This is the deepest Vanderbilt has played without an open date during Mason's five seasons in Nashville.

First-year Arkansas coach Chad Morris opened this season with a win over Eastern Illinois, then endured six consecutive losses before last Saturday's 23-0 blanking of Tulsa.

"It truly is a grind," said Morris, who is working for an SEC program for the first time. "When you look at the way a season unfolds, you have to be strategic and you have to be smart in the way you practice. We are excited obviously about the opportunity this week, as well as going into our open week next week and having an opportunity to get better. It will be much needed."

The Razorbacks have improved as this season has transpired, scoring a surprising 31 points in a lopsided loss to top-ranked Alabama on Oct. 6 before losing in the final minute to Ole Miss, 37-33, the following week.

"As we've gone through this schedule and knowing our bye week was going to be as late as it is, I really feel like it has benefited us, because each week we've gotten a little bit better," Morris said. "We haven't had anything to disrupt that flow, so the way we've been able to stay consistent in the way we do our practices and our meetings and our overall weekly routine, especially for a first-year staff, has really helped us out.

"Our on-field play has definitely improved."

Returning this week for Vanderbilt will be junior running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who has rushed for 495 yards and averaged 6.9 yards per carry this season but missed the second half of the Florida game and the entire Kentucky contest due to injury.

Pasquali's Pix

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech: Tonight the Yellow Jackets are attempting to become the first visiting team to win three straight times at Lane Stadium since Miami more than a quarter-century ago. Hokies 26, Yellow Jackets 21.

Vanderbilt at Arkansas: The Razorbacks are kicking off at 11 a.m. local time for a fourth time in five weeks and for a third straight occasion in Fayetteville. Razorbacks 27, Commodores 24.

VMI at UTC: The Mocs are hosting the Keydets at homecoming for a fourth time, having won the first three by an average score of 42-9. Mocs 37, Keydets 16.

Florida vs. Georgia: It's highly unlikely the Bulldogs match last year's feat of scoring the first 42 points. Bulldogs 26, Gators 23.

Kentucky at Missouri: The Tigers have averaged 501.1 yards per game in their first year under offensive coordinator Derek Dooley. The Tigers are also seeking their first league win of 2018. Tigers 28, Wildcats 24.

Notre Dame at Navy: The Irish and Midshipmen aren't afraid to mix up their playing locations, having competed twice in Ireland and meeting this week in San Diego. Irish 33, Midshipmen 15.

Texas A&M at Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have averaged just 220 offensive yards in their first four SEC contests this season, and Nick Fitzgerald is coming off a 59-yard, four-interception performance at LSU. Aggies 24, Bulldogs 17.

Tennessee at South Carolina: This is the only annual SEC matchup in which each of the past six contests have been decided by less than a touchdown. Gamecocks 23, Volunteers 20.

Last week: Winners — 21; Urban admirers — 4.

Pasquali is 160-40 overall (80.0 percent) this season.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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