MTSU not concerned about underdog status

The Middle Tennessee State University football team is not concerned about their underdog role against Vanderbilt according to Head Coach Andy McCollum. "Our kids don't worry about how big of an underdog they are. They are competitors and we certainly aren't worried about a point spread," said the seventh year head coach.

Middle Tennessee (0-3), picked by many to finish first in the Sun Belt Conference, has managed only one touchdown in each of its first three games. Vanderbilt by contrast, has scored 120 points in its first four games for a 30-point a game average. Despite those statistics, quarterback Clint Marks believes his team can come away victorious. "We feel like we can win. We work hard, just like they do. They are 4-0 and we are 0-3. That doesn't mean we can't win or they have more heart than us."

MTSU, a 17-point underdog to Vanderbilt, is looking for its first win of the season. "We are looking forward to this game. Any first win is big no matter who you are playing, but we are looking forward to playing Vanderbilt. We are going to go there and give it our best," said Marks.

Vanderbilt owns a 12-2 overall record against Middle Tennessee. However, the Commodores have dropped the two most recent games. In 2001 MTSU marred Vandy's opener with a 37-28 win in Woody Widenhofer's last season. The following year the Blue Raiders rallied to score in the final minute to defeat the 'Dores 21-20 in Bobby Johnson's first season.

While Middle is looking for its first win, Vanderbilt is looking to do something it hasn't done since 1943. That was the last time Vanderbilt was 5-0. Incidentally, Vanderbilt only played 5 games during that World War II abbreviated season, beating the likes of Tennessee Tech (twice), Camp Campbell (now Fort Campbell), Milligan, and Carson Newman. Prior to that season, the last time Vanderbilt went 5-0 was the 1937. That year the Commodores went 7-2 (4-2 SEC). Vandy won their fifth game that season by utilizing a now famous trick play to defeat LSU 7-6. The last time Vandy was 6-0? 1928!

EXTRA POINTS

- Vanderbilt is currently rated tops in the SEC in passing offense at 286.0 yards per game and second in total offense (468 ypg) after Georgia.

- The Commodores have a commanding lead in first downs with 106 so far this season. Georgia is second with 87.

- Vandy dropped to second in penalties but remains first in opponent penalties.

- Third down conversions is a key statistic in Vanderbilt's success this season. Vanderbilt is first in the SEC in that stat, converting 55 percent. Vandy converted just 39 percent in 2004.


A Party at Vanderbilt: MTSU celebrates a 21-20 victory in 2002 (VM/ Steve Meigs)

VandyMania.com Top Stories