Key No. 1 - SLOW DOWN KAMRYN PETTWAY
Running back Kamryn Pettway is a big reason for Auburn's recent surge of success. After not having a single carry in the Tigers' close opening loss to Clemson, he has averaged 156 yards a game in games in which he had at least one carry. Simply put, Pettway is big, fast and powerful. He'll run through you, over you and leave you in his dust. The Commodores can't afford missed tackles and blown assignments because he will make them pay.
Key No. 2 - WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE
One area the Commodores have excelled in this season is in turnover margin. Vandy has played relatively clean football without the number of costly turnovers that we saw last season. Currently, Vanderbilt is tied for 20th nationally in turnover margin at plus six. If Vandy can protect the ball on offense while taking some away from the Tigers defensively, they have a much better chance of staying close to the Tigers, as they did at Georgia.
Key No. 3 - THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS A MUST
Vanderbilt has got to do better in this game at converting on third down. So far this season the Commodores have converted on just 36-of-106 third downs (34%). That's a staggering 70 third downs that weren't converted. By comparison, Auburn has converted on 49 percent of its third down conversions while limiting opponents to just 32 percent (VU DEF: 39%). Hopefully, during the bye week, Andy Ludwig added some new packages that can help the Commodore offense get conversions up to around at least 40 percent for this game. On the other side of the coin, Vandy will need Zach Cunningham and his cohorts to limit the Auburn offensive machine.
This game is Vandy's toughest challenge of the season by far. A road game against a very formidable opponent in a venue in which the Commodores have never won. It'll be a homecoming of sorts for Vandy linebacker Zach Cunningham. Rumor has it that he wanted to go to Auburn but was not offered or possibly they ran out of scholarships before he could accept. Regardless, he'll likely have many family and friends in the stands supporting him. Vanderbilt's Spirit of Gold band is also making the trip, and that should help give the team a little extra motivation as if they need it.
Saturday's game is another early kickoff. The game starts at 11 am and will be shown on ESPN.