Thursday, August 9, 2007

VSL Schedule Preview

Luckily for Commodore fans, Vanderbilt plays 8 games at home this season. With season ticket sales already surpassing last year’s totals, and expectations high in Nashville, there is reason to think Dudley Field will be a sufficiently hostile environment this fall. As we have said in this space, we have high expectations for this year team’s and think a record of 8-4 is a reasonable goal for CBJ’s squad (Papa O’Shea will be paying up when we do, that’s for sure). Don’t believe us? We’ll go game by game and prove it to ya…

September 1st vs. Richmond (6pm Central)
A traditionally strong team in I-AA, especially on the defensive side of the ball, the Spiders of Richmond were 6-5 last season after starting the year out 4-0 (remind you of anyone?). Among their 6 wins was a 13-0 defeat over Duke in Durham to open last season. Still, if Richmond gives Vanderbilt much trouble it portends poorly for the Commies prospects the rest of the way.

Result: Commies win 33-6 (1-0)

*September 8th vs. Alabama (11:30am Central, TV: Lincoln Financial Sports)*

When the schedule came out last winter for the 2007-08 Commodores, this was the game Bobby circled as “make or break.” The arrival of Nick Saban and early season love the Tide are enjoying don’t change that at all. The Sporting News, in their SEC Preview, lists this game as a potenial upset for Vanderbilt. While Alabama has gotten better since last season, so have the Commies. After last season’s 13-10 loss in Tuscaloosa, look for CBJ and Vanderbilt to really take it to the Gordon Gee of football coaches and give Bama all they can handle. While we will go into more detail later (hopefully with some help from the boys, the key in this game will almost undoubtedly be the play of our defensive live versus Bama’s offensive line, which figures to be one of the best in the conference. Still, Vanderbilt always plays Alabama tough, and this early season match-up will be no different. Call us crazy, but we like the Commodores chances in this one.

Result: Commies win 23-17 (2-0)

September 15th vs. Ole Miss (TBA)

Another test for Vanderbilt’s defensive line, Ole Miss boasts one of the better running attacks in the SEC. Unfortunately for the Oxford faithful, that’s about the only thing the Rebels have going for them. Vanderbilt ran circles over Ole Miss’ defense last season (400 yards, despite 4 fumbles and 1 INT) in Oxford, despite the 17-10 loss. Look for Chris Nickson, Earl Bennett, and the rest of the Vanderbilt have a big game on a beautiful day in September.

Result: Commies win 31-10 (3-0)

September 29th vs. Eastern Michigan (6pm Central)
While we can blow hot air as well as the rest of the blogosphere, we’re really not able to give you any kind of meaningful insight into the Eagles. They are a preseason 6 in the MAC after going 1-11 last year. Take the Commies and the over…this one could get ugly.

Result: Commies win 38-10 (4-0)

*October 6th @ Auburn (TBA)*

Perhaps this is where our homerism renders us incapable of making rational assessments, but we believe this game in Jordan-Hare Stadium could be a great game. Seamus, an Auburn loyalist, sees the key to this game being Vanderbilt’s ability to put points on the board, particularly through the air. Vanderbilt has to prevent Auburn from playing the kind of grinding game they thrive in. The Tigers lost a lot on both sides of the ball, especially the offensive line. For the Commies, containing the War Eagle run, and applying consistent pressure to Brandon Cox will be key if they are to leave the state of Alabama with a W. Make no mistake, this will be a hostile environment; but the Commies are catching Tommy Tuberville’s boys at an opportune time for them to look past CBJ’s squad. Vanderbilt’s trip south is sandwiched between games at Florida and on the road against Arkansas and LSU for the Tigers. While we won’t be so bold as to predict a win, take Vanderbilt and the points to complete a Saturday parlay. If this game is up-tempo with a lot of scoring, the Commies have got a shot.

Result: Auburn win 24-20 (4-1)

October 13th vs. Georgia (TBA)

For this one, we turned to Stanimal for some insight. He, like Seamus, divides his loyalty between SEC teams (divorce is never easy, especially on the kids). This is a game Georgia has had circled on the schedule since their 24-22 lose to the Commies “Between the Hedges” (for homecoming, no less) last year. Adding insult to injury, Vanderbilt has decided to make this mid-October match-up a time to welcome their alums back to campus. This game also falls on a day when Mark Richt’s squad might have other things on their mind. The week before the Dawgs will travel to Neyland Stadium, with the “Cocktail Party” in Jacksonville coming two Saturday’s after their match-up at Dudley. Still, the Bulldogs will be a lot more prepared for their match-up this year. Mark Richt for the first time turned the offensive reigns over to Mike Bobo, and the result was three victories against ranked opponents to finish out the season. It certainly helps that the Bulldogs offense comes with a 3 deep backfield in Seniors Kregg Lumpkin and Thomas Brown, as well as promising redshirt sophomore Knowshawn Moreno a wide receiver corps with greater experience, and a QB in Matthew Stafford who has proven that he can be the leader that Coach Richt needs at the position. The offensive line is rebuilt, but by highly regarded prospects and JUCO transfers. The Bulldogs offense should click this season. Defensively, things don’t look so bright. Georgia’s linebacking corps is very young and inexperienced aside from Brandon Miller. On the defensive line, the Bulldogs lost standout ends Charles Johnson and Quentin Moses. In the defensive backfield, cornerback Paul Oliver was declared ineligible and left for the NFL Supplemental Draft, and Safety Tra Battle graduated. This will be a true test of the quality of Richt’s recruiting classes as they see how the defense, which is consistently ranked among the best in the nation will recover. Of course, the point we’ve been harping on all off-season is that we’re no slouches either, and they are coming to our home turf. But our victory last year means that Richt will double-time his preparation for us, and while we’d love to say we win this one, we think we lose it close.

Result: Georgia win 27-20 (4-2)

*October 20th @ South Carolina (TBA)*

The Sporting News’ Preview has this game in Columbia as their upset of Week 8. According to Uncle O’Shea, people who cover the SEC think Steve Spurrier’s squad could be poised to win the SEC East this season. I am skeptical. The fact that Vanderbilt travels to Columbia the week before the Gamecocks go on the road to Knoxville, means its very likely that the Ol’ Ball Coach will be looking past the Commies (he tends to look past us no matter when we play them) in this one. Call us crazy, but we’ve got the Commies pulling this one out.

Result: Commies win 31-27 (5-2)

October 27th vs. Miami (Oh) (TBA)
This is another team we don’t know much about (because honestly, why would we?). Miami of Ohio is projected to be one of the worst teams in the MAC, and this game comes at a good time for the Commies, who after 3 tough games (2 on the road and one at home against a team with a grudge) could use a cupcake. It’s possible we will eat our words on this one, but we don’t think so. Vanderbilt should win this one easily and get themselves to bowl eligibility by the end of October.

Result: Commies win 41-7 (6-2)

November 3rd @ Florida (TBA)
No team has played the Gators tougher the last two seasons. We got jobbed two years ago in Gainesville on a phantom excessive celebration call that potentially cost Vanderbilt their first bowl game since 1982. Last season was no better, although the Commies wounds were more self-inflicted in Nashville, allowing two punts to be blocked, including one for a touchdown. We don’t think Florida will be as good as others do this season. Still, they are the defending National Champions (I’ve got some sweet T-Shirts to prove it) and a very, very good team. Take Vanderbilt and the points, but don’t hold your breath for a win.

Result: Gators win 27-17 (6-3)

*November 10th vs. Kentucky (TBA)*

This is another game that Commodore fans should circle. Vanderbilt and Kentucky have combined for 155 points the last two times they have met, though unfortunately the Wildcats have won both. With an explosive offensive attack, Kentucky is not a team to be taken lightly. Still, we think that this is a special Commodore team who will finally get over the hump and win the close games that have eluded them over the past 2 seasons. Take the over and don’t get up for bathroom breaks in this one.

Result: Commies win 38-31 (7-3)

*November 17th @ Tennessee (TBA)*

This is always a big game for Commodore Nation. We hate the Vomit Orange, and they resent us. They still haven’t forgotten (or forgiven) Vanderbilt for giving the Volunteers their first losing season in as long as they can remember in 2005. Phil Fulmer is on the hot seat this season, and really can’t survive another loss to the hated Commies. Still, Tennessee is good…very good, in fact. We’d love to predict a win here, but just can’t bring ourselves to do it. This one will be closer than last year’s, and if the Commies catch fire and learn how to win some games, they could certainly earn their second win in Neyland in as many tries.

Result: Volunteers win 24-20 (7-4)

*November 24th vs. Wake Forest (TBA)*

Despite Wake Forest’s successful season and BCS bowl berth last year, we love that Vanderbilt is scheduled to play Wake 4 times through 2013. The series opens up in Nashville, and is the last game of Commodores season. Don’t be surprised if this game gets a lot of national attention, particularly if Wake and Vanderbilt are battling for bowl placement rather than bowl seeding. We don’t know as much about Wake as we should, but think that however good the Deacons are, they won’t be ready for a team like Vanderbilt after finishing their SEC schedule.

Result: Commies win 27-21 (8-4)

The Big Picture

Admittedly, this is an optimistic projection. But just because we’re homers doesn’t mean we’re entirely irrational. This is top-to-bottom the best Commodore team anyone’s seen in many years, and Bobby’s staff is finally settled in. Five preseason All-SEC players and a wealth of experience (particularly on offense) highlight the roster. Eight wins on a schedule that includes eight home games is not unrealistic given those facts. Perhaps most importantly, the Commie players themselves believe that this will be a special season, and so far they’ve given us no reason to doubt them. Think about it: even if Vanderbilt were to lose at South Carolina or at home against, say, Wake Forest, winning just one of four games against big-time opponents Auburn, Georgia, Florida, or Tennessee could still put us at 8-4 and headed to a quality bowl game like the Cotton Bowl or Chik-Fil-A Bowl. With that said, we just want to be playing in December (or January!) and would definitely book a flight and a room for trips to Memphis (Liberty Bowl), Shreveport (Independence Bowl), or good ole Nash Vegas (Music City Bowl). Consider this our version of throwing down the gauntlet.

Photo Credits:


Douglas James said...

So I think everyone agrees we should beat Richmond, Ole Miss, E. Mich, Miami of Ben Rothlesburger. Florida and UT are most likely losses making us 4-2. I don't see us beating UGA 2 years in a row, nor do I see us winning against Aurburn. 4-4. Leaving Bama, UK, Wake and USC. There is no way we beat all 4 of these teams and I would be thrilled for us to win 3 but I think going 2-2 here is what will happen with most likely victories over UK and Wake. I really don't see Saban allowing us to win the SEC opener. Sorry to dampen the spirit.....

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stanimal said...

It's official, I'll now be reporting from Gamecock nation.

Anonymous said...

UK has the best QB in the SEC, I woudn't call them a pushover

Diezba said...

Somewhat inspired by your optimistic appraisal of events, I decided to do my own schedule predictions, though with less enthusiastic results.

Check it out.