With their electrifying 26-24 upset win at Tennessee last week, the Georgia Bulldogs (3-1 overall; 2-0 Southeastern Conference) put themselves back into contention for the SEC Eastern Division title. Now the 19th ranked Bulldogs must capitalize on that opportunity, beginning with Saturday's game against a struggling Vanderbilt team (1-3 overall; 0-2 conference). Kickoff is at 2:00 p.m. (EST) at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN.
The Commodores lone win this season came against I-AA Richmond. Coach Woody Widenhofer's squad took Alabama and Auburn down to the wire, but was less than impressive against Middle Tennessee State in its other losses.
Georgia's Mark Richt outcoached Tennessee's Phil Fulmer, but the first-year Bulldog mentor must bring his team back down to earth after the Bulldogs first win at Tennessee since 1980. Vanderbilt is capable of pulling an upset. The Commodores gave Georgia fits last year, before losing 29-19. Vanderbilt outgained Georgia by 135 yards (442 to 307), but severely damaged its chances of winning by committing three costly interceptions, one of which defensive back Tim Wansley returned 62 yards for a touchdown.
Keys to a Georgia win include:
* Georgia must keep pressure on Vanderbilt's quarterback.
Vanderbilt has a great quarterback in Greg Zolman. As Zolman goes, so go the Commodores. If the Georgia defense can maintain pressure on Zolman and limit his passing yardage, forcing the Commodores to try to beat the Bulldogs with the run, Georgia should roll to an easy win.
* Bulldogs need to have a quick start.
It is imperative that the Bulldogs get off to a fast start, both offensively and defensively. Scoring a couple of first quarter touchdowns and stopping any Vandy scoring threats in the first half would greatly help.
* Establish a strong running game.
Georgia quarterback David Greene should throw for a lot of yards. As a result, Georgia receivers such as Terrence Edwards and Randy McMichael should also have big game--particularly McMichael, who has shown a knack for catching the ball in traffic.
If Georgia gets a sizable lead in the second half, it's important for the Bulldogs to run the ball effectively (and not turn it over) to melt time off the game clock. Vanderbilt does have strong comeback capability with Zolman.
As a general rule, Vanderbilt plays fairly well defensively, but the Commodores can't seem to produce enough points to win consistently. That won't change against a Georgia team that had it beaten South Carolina, would be ranked in the Top 10. Georgia owns a 42-17-2 series lead against the Commodores. Make that a 43-17-2 series cushion. GEORGIA 31, VANDERBILT 10.
Tim can be reached at email@example.com.