SEC SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN: VANDERBILT
Commodores on the uptick?
Welcome back to our SEC schedule breakdown, We start week number three with my pick to finish 10th in the SEC. So far I have picked Auburn to finish 14th, Kentucky 13th, South Carolina 12th, Missouri 11th, and Mississippi State 10th.
Now it’s time for the first major surprise pick so far as we end the week with his pick to finish ninth in the SEC this season.
The Pick: Vanderbilt Commodores
League Finish: 9th
Division Finish: 4th
SEC Record: 4-4
Overall Record: 6-6
Bowl Game: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
This is easily the most controversial pick I have made so far. I know some people will laugh at this pick or possibly stop reading, but here me out. There is something brewing in Middle Tennessee and it means good things for Derek Mason.
Mason’s Vanderbilt team had one of the nation’s best defensive units last season and their defense will be just as good if not better this season. The only reason Vandy didn’t win a couple of the games its defense kept them in was a lack of a quarterback.
If Vandy can find someone that can just keep the job, then they will win more of those games. Sophomore Kyle Shurmur is the man for the job according to Mason and I agree with him completely.
The Vanderbilt defense will keep them in almost every game in 2016 and if Shurmur can make some plays than Vandy will go bowling this year.
Week one Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina. Thu, Sept. 1st
This one is pretty simple in my opinion to pick. If you read the schedule preview for South Carolina, I wrote that the Gamecocks won’t have a solid starter determined at QB for week one. That will play into the hands of one of the nation’s best defenses. This probably won’t be a high scoring game, but Vandy’s defense will win this game for the Commodores.
Week two Vanderbilt vs. Middle Tennessee State. Sat, Sept. 10th
This is a game I picked last year and I went with MTSU, but Vanderbilt proved me wrong. While I think MTSU will be a good team and will give Vandy a game early, I just don’t see them being able to score enough to win verses the Commodores defense. It’s not a super challenging start to the season for Vanderbilt and the should start 2-0, but the MTSU game is still a swing game and a potential trap game in my option with Georgia Tech up next.
Week three Vanderbilt @ Georgia Tech. Sat, Sept. 17th
This is an interesting SEC verses ACC matchup in week three, the Commodores defense will be tested in this game. Tech’s offense might be the third hardest to slow down on Vandy’s schedule this season. While I think the Commodores will keep it close for most of the game, Tech will be able to pull off enough big plays to get the win. Vandy drops to 2-1 on the season and loses their biggest game so far.
Week four Vanderbilt @ Western Kentucky. Sat, Sept. 24th
This one is a swing game in my book and will be an important one for Vandy’s bowl hopes. WKU lost a lot from last year’s team, especially Brandon Doughty. The Hilltopers beat the Commodores last season 14-12 and it could be a low scoring game again this season. I think the outcome is the same this year as Western Kentucky does just enough to win the game. However, while I don’t think it will happen this is a game Vanderbilt could pull out a win in.
Week five Vanderbilt vs. Florida. Sat, Oct. 1st
Last year I almost looked like a genius when I picked Vandy to upset Florida in ‘The Swamp’. This year I still think Vanderbilt is capable of winning this game, but I have to go with the Gators in a swing game. There will be plenty of questions for both teams offensively still and it should be a low scoring game again. While this one will be a defensive show down I think it’s Florida’s defense that makes the play to win the game. Vandy falls to 2-3 on the season, before back to back SEC East road games.
Week six Vanderbilt @ Kentucky. Sat, Oct. 8th
The Commodores head to Lexington to take on the Wildcats in an early October matchup. This one is a swing game for both teams and a win for Kentucky will be a lot more important. However, Vanderbilt’s defense will be able to control the Wildcats running backs and offense. The Commodores improved offense will finally show in this one, as that’s why they win. Vandy improves to 3-3 and has a 2-1 record in SEC play. That’s good enough to keep them close to the top of the East standings early and that’s something that Vandy fans would love to see, even if just for a few weeks.
Week seven Vanderbilt @ Georgia. Sat, Oct. 15th
This one could really shake up the standings in the East if Vanderbilt can pull of the win. However, that one won’t happen this year. Vandy’s defense will keep it close early and maybe even late, but Georgia’s running backs will both be back to full health by this point in the season and that spells trouble for anyone’s defense. Georgia’s backs make enough plays to win this one for the Dogs.
Week eight Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee State. Sat, Oct. 22nd
Vandy returns home for a much needed break from SEC play before it’s buy week. The Tigers won’t be any match for Vanderbilt’s defense and this one should be over quick. Expect the Commodores to rest Shurmur and Ralph Webb for the majority of the game. Junior Wade Freebeck could see season high minutes in this one in clean up duty. The extra rest before the buy will be huge for Vanderbilt as it enters the home stretch 4-4.
Week ten Vanderbilt @ Auburn. Sat, Nov. 5th
This one is a swing game for both teams and one I think Vanderbilt will win. Auburn will still have the worst offense in the league by this point and will have to face one of the best defenses in the nation. This screams pick Vandy, but the game is at Auburn and we have seen stranger things happen on the plans. However, defense is the deference here, Vanderbilt moves to 5-4 with the win and is one game away from a bowl trip.
Week eleven Vanderbilt @ Missouri. Sat, Nov. 12th
This one will not be a fun one to watch, unless you like defense. Both offenses will be lack luster at best, but their defenses will be amazing. This will be low scoring and will come down to witch offense can score first. Vandy will have the slightly better offense and that’s why they win this game, moving to 6-4 on the season.
Week twelve Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss. Sat, Nov. 19th
The season has been going great for Vanderbilt, but will it end with the same amount of success. The answer is No, the Commodores will have arguably their two hardest games of the season in their last two weeks. Ole Miss’s offense will be able to make enough plays to overcome the Commodores powerful defense. Vandy falls to 6-5 and 4-3 in SEC play, this loss will close the door on Vanderbilt’s SEC title hopes if it was still open witch it could be depending on several things involving Florida.
Week thirteen Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee. Sat, Nov. 26th
The Commodores and Vols meet up in their annual rivalry game. The Vanderbilt defense might be a bit worn down form the Ole Miss game last week and Tennessee’s offense will be rolling at top speed by this point. The key difference here is Tennessee’s defense will be able to match Vanderbilt’s defense punch for punch. However, Vandy’s offense won’t be able to do the same with Tennessee’s offense. The Vols running game will be too much for Vandy to control for sixty minutes and the Vols get the win.
Vanderbilt will end the regular season 6-6 and 4-4 in SEC Play. While, the last two weeks didn’t go well for the Commodores the season has a whole was a success for Derek Mason.
Vanderbilt will have a shot at a seven-win season with a win in its bowl game and for the fans in Nashville that is a great season. It won’t equal anything James Franklin did, but it is a step in the right direction.
Stay tuned next week for my picks to finish 7th and 8th in the SEC this season.