Vanderbilt will have a new home opponent on their schedule for 2016 and 2018 - and they won't have to travel far to make the trip to Dudley Field. Adam Sparks of the Tennessean reported today that the Commodores will host Tennessee State in two of the next three seasons.
"We are playing Tennessee State in football. We’ve got two games scheduled with them," Williams said. "… I believe it makes sense (to play nearby teams). When I was at Ohio State, we came up with a thought that it was important that we at least every other year play one of the schools in Ohio."
Vanderbilt and Tennessee State have met once before, in 2006. The Commodores only needed 129 passing yards (81 of which went to Earl Bennett) to defeat the Tigers 38-9. TSU is only two seasons removed from a 10-4 record and an appearance in the second round of the FCS playoffs. They've gone 24-13 over the last three seasons; Vanderbilt's last in-state FCS opponent, Austin Peay, has a 3-32 record over the same span.
The two-game series should build some excitement in Nashville, even if the teams aren't natural rivals. Tennessee State will bring more fans to Dudley Field than a program like Austin Peay or Presbyterian would - but the results won't be drastic. This Commodore/Tiger matchup offers Vanderbilt a winnable home game to fill out their schedule and gives TSU a major test and a FBS paycheck. That's a win/win for each team - assuming that Vandy can defend their home field when the Tigers arrive in 2016 and 2018.