Georgia-Vanderbilt Preview

Vanderbilt and Georgia have played 68 times since 1893. Saturday's match up marks the first time that both teams are ranked going in to the game. It's been a season full of firsts for the Commodores, and with a win in Athens the Commodores will have their first six win season since 1982.

Vanderbilt beat the Dawgs in Athens in 2006, and if not for a key turnover in the waning moments of last year's game, the 'Dores would be going for the three-peat. For whatever reason, Vandy has played the Dawgs close in recent years and I don't expect this game to be any different.

The Dawgs were the recipients of some serious pre-season hype, oscillating between the #1 and #2 spots in most polls, but have yet to put everything together on the field. Games against Central Michigan and Georgia Southern were the expected blowouts. Then a reeling South Carolina team played Georgia surprisingly close in Columbia, SC. In probably their most complete performance to date the Dawgs pounded a struggling Arizona State squad in the desert 27-10.

Then there was the Alabama game. The Tide came out firing on all cylinders offensively and defensively, and shocked the Dawgs and the home "blackout" crowd in Athens. With an off week to stew over the beating they took at the hands of J.P. Wilson and Co. many expected Georgia to take out some frustrations against an improbably bad Tennessee team. The Vols had benched heir apparent QB Jonathan Crompton a week earlier against Northern Illinois, and new starter Nick Stephens was to make his first SEC start between the hedges against a Georgia squad looking for redemption after an embarrassing setback. Again, UGA seemed to struggle against a decidedly inferior opponent. Despite getting the win the Dawgs looked sloppy, as Matt Stafford threw an interception in the end zone that ended up resulting in a 14 point swing for the Vols. If Tennessee had been able to manage more than 1 yard against a stout UGA run defense the outcome of that game could have been drastically different.

Halfway through the season the hype seems to have gotten the best of the Dawgs. They are the most penalized team in the SEC and seem to win in spite of themselves at times. The offensive line has become a game of musical chairs due to injuries at left guard, and despite a statistically dominant run defense UGA has looked suspect at times on the defensive side of the ball.

While Vanderbilt has struggled at times, particularly moving the ball, we must keep in mind that the 'Dores weren't exactly expected to be tied with Florida atop the SEC East Standings. While Matt Stafford and Knownshon Moreno were posing for SI covers during fall camp Mackenzi Adams and Jared Hawkins were just trying to earn playing time. The ‘Dores have been if anything, opportunistic this season, making plays defensively and capitalizing on red-zone scoring opportunities. They are also the least penalized team in the league. In short, Vanderbilt wins when they do the little things right. Georgia wins by controlling the clock and wearing down their opponents down. In a game that has been decided by field goals the last two years, don't look for a blowout either way. Knowshon gashed the ‘Dores last year in Nashville, and if the defense can't find a way to stuff the Georgia running attack early it could be a long day for the defense. However, Mackenzi Adams promises to inject some energy into a Vanderbilt offense that was dead on the table last week in Starkville. If Vandy can have success through the air look for the ‘Dores to regain control of their destiny in the SEC East.

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