Vanderbilt-EMU: What to expect

Vanderbilt gets back to action this weekend against the Eagles of Eastern Michigan. This is not a game the Commodores can afford to take lightly. Teams from the Mid-American Conference have made a name for themselves by pulling upsets over opponents from BCS conferences.

This game is the latest in a series of must win games, and schedule only gets tougher for the Commodores after this with six of their next seven games being against Southeastern Conference opponents.

The Eagles are a team the Commodores should beat. It will be very important for them to come out and score early Saturday night to get the momentum. If they can get the Eagles in an early hole they will squash the emotion the Eagles are sure to have because they are facing an SEC opponent. If the Commodores do not play well early, the Eagles could gain the confidence to pull off the upset.

The Commodores should be able to take advantage of an Eastern Michigan defense that is giving up 210 yards passing per game. Chris Nickson should be completely healthy coming off of the bye and should have a big game on Saturday. This could be another big game for Earl Bennett who only needs 20 catches to become the SEC's all time leading receiver. He will match up well with any of the defensive backs that Eastern Michigan puts against him in coverage.

The Commodores' running attack should also fare well against an Eagles defense that is giving up 181 yards per game. Cassen Jackson-Garrison is coming off of his best game in his Vanderbilt career where he carried the ball 23 times for 119 yards and 3 touchdowns against Ole Miss. He should find some more room to run on Saturday. The Commodores will also benefit from getting Jeff Jennings back who missed the Ole Miss game with an ankle injury. The combination of Jennings and Jackson-Garrison running behind the Commodores' veteran offensive line should make for some big plays this weekend.

The Eastern Michigan offense hasn't had much success yet in the 2007 season. They are averaging only 113 yards per game on the ground and 166 yards per game though the air. The Eagles offense is led by sophomore quarterback Andy Schmitt who is 6'4 and weighs 230 pounds. He is a quarterback who likes to run the ball and can be tough to take down in the open field because of his size. The Vanderbilt defensive front will have to stay in their rush lanes to keep Schmitt from escaping and running for big gains.

This is just another game the Commodores need to win to keep their bowl hopes alive. Vanderbilt will be the better team on Saturday night. The coaches just need to make sure the players remember what happened to Michigan against Appalachin State. The better team does not always win. If the Commodores play to their potential on Saturday night, it should be an easy win on West End.


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