Oh my darling, Oh my darling, Ohh my darrrrrrlinnnnnggggg Commodores…..
Before James Franklin made his way to NashVegas to take over a struggling Commodore program, Vanderbilt would fight Kentucky to be the season bottom feeder in the SEC. Since Franklins arrival in 2011, the Commodores have gone 15-11 and 1-1 in bowl games. Two bowl games in his first two years at Vandy? Thanks to Franklin the Commodores are recruiting well and feeling pretty good about themselves right now. But is this just a bit of smoke and mirrors? The SEC teams Vandy has beaten in the last two seasons are Ole Miss (2011, 2012), Kentucky (2011, 2012), Missouri (2012), Auburn (2012), Tennessee (2012). Aside from beating Ole Miss last season, none of those other SEC teams had a winning record and only Ole Miss went to a bowl game. If that sounds like I am not exactly buying the Vandy Franklin flavored Kool-Aid… you would be right. Is Vandy the SEC pushover anymore? Nope. Vandy has improved and everyone is picking them to upset everyone’s apple cart… but 2013 may be a bit of a come to reality for the Commodores.
8/29 Ole Miss
The Commodores will open the 2013 and SEC play with the Rebels at home. The last two seasons, even with an improved Ole Miss, the Commodores have run away with the W. This will be the second season for the Rebs under Hugh Freeze who has recruited well. Vandy has nearly recruited just as well. Ole Miss has the advantage with a returning QB, while Vandy breaks in a rookie. That gives the Rebs the advantage. Ole Miss by 10.
9/7 Austin Peay
Commodores first scrimmage of the 2013 season. They should have no problems with the Governors. Anchor down by 30.
9/14 @South Carolina
In 2012, the Commodores held the Gamecocks to 17 points and only losing that season opener by 4. Spurrier has led the Gamecocks over some very significant wins against high level teams and has become a regular on the Top 10 scene. I don’t think this game will be quite as close this year. Spurrier is Spurrier and the Gamecocks are loaded with a lot more talent than Vandy. Jadaveon Clowney will have a big day… perhaps the kind of game that kick starts a Heisman campaign. Gamecocks by 17.
Last season the Commodores beat up on UMass 49-7. Even though Vandy has to take a trip up north this go around with a new QB… the Commodores have their way again and go up 2-2 on the year. Vandy by 27.
9/28 UAB Blazers
The Mighty Dragons went a dismal 3-9 in 2012 in C-USA with their only wins against SE Louisiana, Southern Miss (who went 0-12 last year), and Marshall who didn’t have a much better season than the Blazers. By this point in the season the team who allowed an average of 37.5 points and averaged 28.3 points in one of the least competitive conferences in all of College Football has to travel about 4 hours north to NashVegas to face the Commodores and the big bad all powerful SEC. And Vanderbilt won’t have much of a problem with them at all. Vandy by 23.
10/5 Missouri Tigers
In Mizzou’s inaugural season in the SEC, they went 5-7 and lost a close one to Vandy 19-15. Franklin returns as QB for the Tigers, but with co-Offensive line coach taking over as the Tigers new offensive coordinator. By this point in the season, the Tigers will have faced Murray State, Toledo (who just faced THE FLORIDA GATORS), Indiana, Arkansas State and likely be a game away from becoming bowl eligible. Vandy had a way of making most of them close in 2012, and I think that may be true again this year in some cases. Vandy may have an equally good year defensively as they appeared to have in 2012 under James Franklin. But the Tigers have their own James Franklin who in his career has 4533 yards, 32 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Tigers may be bowl eligible after this road game and win by 3.
10/12 Open Date
10/19 UGAly Slobberhounds
Here is where the Vandy schedule gets a little… interesting. Remember the complaints a while back where Bama had to play 6 teams that had a week off prior to playing them? Well, Vandy doesn’t exactly get 6 bye weeks, but they do have two open dates prior to division rivals, UGAly and THE FLORIDA GATORS. Will they be able to take advantage of that? By this point of the season, the Slobberhounds will have played @Clemson, South Carolina, North Texas, LSU, @Tenn and Mizzou before heading to Nashville. UGAly’s defense is a bit depleted due to defections to the NFL… but that Defense is still better than Vandy and Aaron Murray will put up points. UGAly slammed Vandy 48-3 in 2012. Don’t think James Franklin has forgotten that. Vandy is at home and a week off to rest and put some wrinkles in to get ready for the Mutts. But it still won’t be enough. UGAly by 7
10/26 @Texas A&M Aggies
By this point in the season, Vandy has already faced 4 SEC teams and has not won a single one. After a fight with the Mutts at home, the Commodores take a road trip to College Station to visit the Aggies and Johnny IShouldntTweet. The Aggies by this point will have faced Rice, Sam Houston State, Alabama, SMU, @Arkansas, @OleMiss, and Auburn and likely already secured a bowl berth. Sumlin will have had a good offseason working to further implement his offensive attack with his new Offensive Coordinator. A&M allowed only 21.8 points per season in 2012, but put up an average of 44.5. I don’t predict that the Aggies will put the Commodores into the canon and blow them back to Nashville (though they are certainly capable of making this one uuugggggllllyyyy for Vandy. This is still an SEC game. Vandy is still looking for a third bowl berth in 3 years. This game won’t help. Farmers by 17.
11/2 Open Date
11/9 @THE FLORIDA GATORS
Another open date for the Commodores, and another SEC-East foe to face in the MIGHTY FLORIDA GATORS. In 2012, Florida went north to NashVegas and beat the Commodores 31-17. In 2013, the Gators will have already faced a gauntlet of a schedule in Toledo, @Miami (Fl), Tenn, @Kentucky, Arkansas, @LSU, @Mizzou and UGAly. They are likely already bowl eligible and on path to be the East representative in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. The Gators only allowed an average of 14.5 points in 2012 and lost some key elements from their Defense to the NFL, and whether Florida found a passing game in the 2nd year of Brent Pease as Offensive Coordinator is still up in the air. The Gator Defense should be just fine and will be licking its chops knowing a rookie is in the back field. THE FLORIDA GATORS send the Commodores home with another L. Gators by 17.
11/16 Kentucky Wildcats
4 losses, all SEC no less, in a row and the Commodores may be feeling and reeling from it. Vandy returns home licking their wounds to face a Kentucky Wildcat team that is looking to turn things around. A 40-0 loss in 2012 to Vandy may still be hard to swallow, and it is likely they will go winless in the SEC again in 2013. Mark Stoops jumped the Smellinole bandwagon to take on his first stint as a head coach with the Kentucky Wildcats. He has recruited well in his first year, but he has a helluva uphill rebuilding battle on his hands. Of all of Kentucky’s losses were by an average of 22 points. Losses included Tennessee, Arkansas and Mizzouri who were all terrible… what does that say about how bad Kentucky was? Vanderbilt will get the win again this year, but may not have as easy of a time doing so in 2013 by 10.
11/23 @Tennessee Volunteers
The annual battle to be the top dog in the state of Tennessee. Still strange saying that, but lately, Vandy has made things a bit interesting. In 2012, Tennessee could put up some points with Tyler Bray under center.. .but he’s gone to the NFL. Vandy beat their instate rivals 41-18 last season. This will be the second team in a row where Vandy has faced a first year coach. This time they face a Butch Jones at Tennessee who is also facing a bit of a rebuilding effort. However, Tennessee will be looking to establish themselves and I believe this game being in Knoxville and the fact that I think the Vols may have a few more tools at their disposal than the Wildcats have. The Vols will want to make a statement that they are on the way back. Vols manage a win by 7.
11/30 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest reallllly misses Riley Skinner. In 2012, the Demon Deacons managed a dismal average 18.5 points. To make matters worse… the Deacon defense was ranked 93rd in the country and went 5-7 overall. Vandy beat up on the Deacons 55-21 last season, and I don’t see a great improvement for Wake Forest in 2013. Vandy by 17.
The last two years for Vandy have been a remarkable turnaround in the Franklin regime. 2013 on the field will show continued improvement, but their record will not reflect it. Unfortunately, with a 5-7 record Vandy won’t be going bowling for a third straight year because the SEC East will have improved in 2013 and they won’t have the luxury of so many teams being down.