Well, the Vanderbilt Commodores are a ranked team.
Number 21 to be exact.
Not for long, fellow droogs.
Commodore faithful can rest easy for almost two more weeks since Vanderbilt has a bye week this coming Saturday.
But before I get accused of trying to take a cheap shot at an eternally struggling program, let me start by saying I am happy for Bobby Johnson and what his team has done in the early part of this season. Johnson has a thankless job, and it’s great to see the guy getting some recognition.
That said, Vanderbilt just isn’t that good.
Have they notched a few good wins? Sure.
But let’s take a closer look at those wins, shall we?
On the surface, it looks like Vanderbilt is playing perfect football: They are racking up more rushing yards than their opponents, making huge plays on special teams, and are sitting pretty with a turnover margin of +9.
Then again, Chris Nickson, Vandy’s starting quarterback, has yet to pass for 100 yards in a game. In fact, for those counting at home, Nickson has 292 passing yards in four games—in other words, a typical Chase Daniel first half.
I can hear Vandy fans now: But Nickson’s a dual threat—he hurts teams with his legs more than his arm.
Again, on paper Nickson’s 270 rush yards look good. But against the two SEC teams Vandy has faced, Ole Miss and South Carolina, Nickson has rushed 23 times for 19 yards.
Not only that, Ole Miss and South Carolina are ranked 8th and 10th, respectively, in rush defense in the SEC.
Other telling statistics: Of all the SEC teams, Vanderbilt is number 12 in total offense. In total defense, they are once again at number 12.
Just a reminder: There are 12 teams in the SEC.
The Commodores’ next game against Auburn appears to be the make or break game of the season. As always, Auburn’s D is as stingy as ever—and should provide a stiff test for the Vanderbilt rush attack.
But while Auburn has been prone to turning it over this season, I just can’t see Vandy winning the battle in the trenches.
After Auburn, Vandy then hits the road for two weeks, heading to Mississippi State and Georgia.
From there, the ‘Dores get Duke and then end with a very tough four-game stretch: vs. Florida, at Kentucky, vs. Tennessee, and at the ACC’s finest, Wake Forest.
Clearly the game most winnable game is against Duke, but from there, it’s a crapshoot.
Mississippi State is down, but have fun trying to win in Starkville against a desperate Bulldog team. Kentucky is a mystery, and while the Volunteers look to be struggling, the last thing Tennessee wants is another loss to Vanderbilt.
So the race to go bowling is on for Vanderbilt, as they will likely need three more wins to do so.
Can the ‘Dores get three more victories? Yes.
Would I bet on it? No, sir.
So enjoy it now, Nashville.
Come Oct. 4, it’s back to reality.
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