Vandy Shooting for Bigger Bowls

With the victory over Kentucky last Saturday Vanderbilt became bowl eligible for the third straight year under the watch of James Franklin. In order to truly understand the significance of that sentence you have to remember that before Franklin strode into town the 'Dores had been to a grand total of four bowls in the history of the program.

With the victory over Kentucky last Saturday Vanderbilt became bowl eligible for the third straight year under the watch of James Franklin. In order to truly understand the significance of that sentence you have to remember that before Franklin strode into town the 'Dores had been to a grand total of four bowls in the history of the program. In other words, if Franklin is able to repeat this success next year, and there is no reason why he shouldn't, he would have equaled the total bowl output from 1890-2010 in just four straight years.

Though we will all agree that just getting to a bowl is still a novel and enjoyable experience for the program, there is still a lot of work to be done. If this 6-4 squad can win out and go 8-4 in the regular season with wins over Florida and Georgia then you could make a case that this would be the best season in school history. If that could then be parlayed into a more prestigious bowl game than the ones that Vandy have been shoehorned into for the last couple of years, and if it could be won, then there would be no argument.

The Commodores should have designs on finishing 8-4 at this point. That begins with the clash this weekend against Tennessee. The game is meaningful for any number of reasons, just as any game which has rivalry implications should be. The 41-18 drubbing which Vandy threw down on Tennessee last year was enough for those in charge to decide Derek Dooley wasn't the right man for the job, but Butch Jones hasn't exactly come in and set the world on fire either. A win for Vandy would shut Tennessee out of the bowl season for the second straight year, and it would put a heap more pressure on Jones in the process.

You see the thing is one win over a supposed 'big brother' can be pushed aside as merely a fluke. It is nothing more than 365 days of enjoyment before the supposed normal order of things sets in again. A second win in a row, however, becomes more than that. Call it a trend, or a patter, or whatever you like, but with two wins in a row over the Vols this upstart Vanderbilt can claim to be the better team. A win would be the first back to back over Tennessee since 1925-26, yet more history is on the line here.

A win, however, could mean much more than just instate rivalry kudos in the present. Most bowl projections currently have Vandy slipping into either the Liberty Bowl or the BBVA Compass Bowl, the slots reserved for the 8th/9th SEC teams. A win over Tennessee, plus a victory in a very winnable game against Wake Forest, would give the 8-4 'Dores a shot at a much better bowl, maybe the Gator or Chick-fil-A depending on how other games go. A better bowl equals both more money and better exposure, music to the ears of this still emerging Vanderbilt program.

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