Scouting Vandy's next three opponents

We're a quarter of the way through the season, and with the bye week ahead of us, what better time to look ahead to the next three games? It's time to break down the competition in completely unprofessional analysis, and as an added bonus, I'll give you my opinion of the odds of walking away from each game with a win.

Eastern Michigan Eagles

The Eagles got their first win of the season last week, a 21-19 squeaker at home against Northern Illinois, stopping a two-point conversion with four minutes remaining to hold the win. Oddly enough, Vanderbilt will be the best competition that the Eagles face this season, though they did have a season-opening 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh. The Eagles don't throw the ball for much such, with QB Andy Schmitt only throwing for 150 yds/game. Unfortunately for Eastern Michigan, they're running the ball with even less success – just 112.3 yds/game. Teams are averaging 28.0 points against their defense, and with the added benefit of the bye week, I don't see the Commodores scoring anywhere below. As long as the Commodores aren't looking ahead to Auburn (which is the only reason I'm not listing them as 100%), they should be able to put the boys from Ypsilanti early. Chances of victory: 98%

Auburn Tigers

Auburn finds itself with a losing record after having lost to Mississippi State, of all schools. The problem with Auburn is a simple one – they simply cannot throw the football. This allows defenses to stack up and against the run and dare Tuberville to call a pass play, seven of which have already turned into interceptions already this season. Amazingly, Auburn has only scored five touchdowns in the three games, though it's field goal unit has been very consistent, keeping the Tigers in every game they've played so far. This will be Vanderbilt's first road game of the season, which for other teams would give me a pause of concern, but Vanderbilt's biggest wins in recent years (Georgia in '06, Tennessee in '05) have come on the road, and both of Auburn's losses have come in Jordan-Hare Stadium. As it stands at this very moment, without having seen a lot out of back-up QB Kodi Burns, I think Vanderbilt can stick with the gameplan they had at Ole Miss (load the box to stop the run/pressure the QB into making mistakes) to great success. Auburn's defense is also not as stout as we've seen in years past, exemplified by letting Mississippi build a 13-0 before the Tigers got on the board last week. This looks like the perfect storm for the ‘Dores – Auburn trying to find it's identity as Vanderbilt is solidifying its own. Besides, we should be able to beat any team that loses to Mississippi St., right? Chances of victory: 65%

Georgia Bulldogs

You know that Mark Richt and his boys are hungry for this one. After the Commodores ruined their Homecoming last season, the Bulldogs are ready to return the favor in Nashville. This could be a very telling game for Vanderbilt, who has a great shot at being 4-1 (2-1 SEC) coming into the game, and a win in Auburn would be a huge momentum builder. Vanderbilt also falls as a "sandwich" game for Georgia – immediately after the Tennessee game and immediately before the Florida game. While I don't think that means the Commodores will be overlooked (surely they learned their lesson last season, right?), a sense of this game being "the easy game" may still rest in their subconscious. Georgia's put up big numbers offensively this season, but the bulk of them have been against Western Carolina and an Oklahoma St. team that lost by 18 to Troy last week. While their competition will have stiffened by the time they get to Nashville (they'll play at Alabama, host Ole Miss and head to Knoxville between now and then), it's hard to say where their head will be or how confident they can feel. While I really do like our chances in the game, especially since they were held to 12 points by a Spurrier defense two weeks again, I think this one's a coin flip – we'd need to play our best game and be able to stop theirs at the same time. I'll take the easy road with this one, though I will say it should be yet another tight, classic struggle. Chances of victory: 50%

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