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The Bisons vs. Volunteers, a rivalry!

Lipscomb’s Ketchup and Bouck sharing a laugh. Photo taken by Micah Barkley

On March 14th the Bisons travel to Knoxville for their date with the currently third ranked, Tennessee Volunteers. This will be the 15th time the Bisons and Vols face off.

According to the University of Tennessee Athletics web page, The Volunteers won 12 of 14 matchups. Sidenote: if you look at the Lipscomb Athletics page it lists only played 12 games total against Tennessee. The discrepancy Lipscomb Athletics page looks back to when we moved to Division 1 of the NCAA in 2003.

A Lopsided History

The first-ever matchup between the Bisons and the Vols took place in 1979 at Nashville where the Bisons fell to the Vols 5-3.

The 1979 baselball team. Photo courtesy of the 1979 Backlog.

Three years later, in 1982, they faced off in Knoxville. The Bisons again fell to the Vols 6-2.

The two teams wouldn’t play again until the Bisons moved to Division 1 of the NCAA and joined the ASUN conference in 2003. Once again Tennessee dominated, beating the Bisons 12-4 on March 16, 2004.

By now you may be wondering, has Lipscomb ever won? Has the score ever been close?

The most competitive contest took place in 2007 when UT claimed a one-run victory.

In 2009 the Bisons were handed their largest loss at the hands of the Vols with a score of 17-3.

The Bisons’ luckiest day was April 27, 2021, when they beat the Vols 4-1.

In the last two decades, the Bisons have given up almost three times the runs they have scored in those games.

Fans may wonder, what’s the point of playing a team that consistently outperforms the other? And why are the majority of matchups in Knoxville? While it is not clear this is what is happening, oftentimes smaller teams will play bigger teams in a game known as a “buy” or “guarantee.”

Athletic Director U, a site dedicated to college athletics, explains the scheduling this way, a buy game, “is a game that is seen as essential for power conference schools that want to add to the portfolio of home games that they can put in season ticket packages. Plus, if the games go as expected for the home team, they’re games the host school can typically pencil in as wins.”

It’s not only records that benefit, it’s a matter of money. Once again, there is no indication if this is what is happening in this case, but buy games often come with a financial incentive for both teams.

As the Bisons plan for another trip to East Tennessee, they will, unfortunately, have to play with fewer fans in the stands, because this game falls during Lipscomb’s Spring Break.

What’s Next for the Bisons?

Following their game on Tuesday, Mar. 14 against the Vols, the Bisons will begin their conference play with a weekend series as they host the Jacksonville Dolphins. Then the Bisons will take on their Nashville rivals the Vanderbilt Commodores next Tuesday, March 21.