Vanderbilt Opponents 2009- Part III

Vanderbilt's third quarter of the season will be very challenging. In part III of our preview of the Commodores' 2009 opponents we take a look at Vanderbilt's games with Georgia, South Carolina, and Georgia Tech. We also make a prediction on who will win the game.

Vanderbilt vs. Georgia
October 17, 2009

Overview: Coming off a solid road win at Army Vanderbilt will likely be entering this game either 4-2 or 5-1 (1-2 or 2-1 SEC). A home win over the Bulldogs could put Vandy among the top teams in the SEC East. Georgia will be coming off a likely big victory over Tennessee.

The raw data: Georgia finished the 2008 season 10-3 and beat Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl, 24-12. Georgia, coached by Mark Richt (82-22), returns 49 lettermen including seven offensive and eight defensive starters.

Why we should be worried: Georgia, like Vanderbilt, is well coached. Coach Mark Richt is very similar to Bobby Johnson as he is a class act and his team makes few mistakes. On offense the Bulldogs have big wide receiver, A.J. Green, back. He caught 56 passes for eight touchdowns last year. On defense Georgia returns linebacker Rennie Curran who led the Bulldogs in tackles a year ago with 115. He also had 3 sacks and 7 tackles for losses.

Why we should be optimistic: Although Vandy has lost 14 of the last 17 games the last three have been decided by an average of just 5 points per game. The Bulldogs lost quarterback Matthew Stafford and tailback Knowshon Moreno to the NFL. There is no way those losses are not going to have an adverse affect on them.

What might happen: Georgia will score early and take a 10-0 first quarter lead. However, Vandy, led by tailbacks Zac Stacy and Jared Hawkins along with a veteran offensive line, pounds the ball forward on the ground and takes the lead in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter a late pass to a Commodore tight end wins the game for Vandy.

Predicted Score: Vanderbilt 24 Georgia 21

Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina
Octover 24, 2009

Overview: Vandy visits Columbia with a likely 5-2 or 6-1 (2-2 or 3-1 SEC) record. The Commodores will be looking for their third straight win over the Gamecocks and Steve Spurrier. Steve Spurrier is in his fifth year at South Carolina and has a career record of 170-62-2.

The raw data: South Carolina finished the 2008 season 7-6 and fell to Vanderbilt, 24-17, in Nashville. The Gamecocks returns 40 lettermen including five offensive and six defensive starters.

Why we should be worried: The Gamecock nation and coach Spurrier will be on extra guard for Vandy this season. Two losses to Vanderbilt is awful for them but three straight would likely make for a coaching change in Columbia. Spurrier will have his team ready for this game. On offense, sophomore Stephen Garcia should be starting this season. His top target will be senior Moe Brown who had 30 catches last season. Defensively, free safety Chris Culliver will lead the way. Culliver had 60 tackles, a sack, 3.5 tackles for losses and 3 picks last season.

Why we should be optimistic: The 'Dores have pulled off two straight, why not make it three straight? South Carolina must replace 6 offensive starters including their top rusher, top receiver and quarterback. If Vandy can play smart ball and not give USC gifts they should be able to pull off a big road win.

What might happen: The Commodores take control early and build a 14 point halftime lead. USC cuts the VU lead to seven in the third quarter but an early fourth quarter run by Zac Stacy puts Vandy back in command.

Predicted Score: Vanderbilt 21 South Carolina 10

Vanderbilt vs. Georgia Tech
October 31, 2009

Overview: Vandy will likely enter this game with either a 6-2 or 7-1 (3-2 or 4-1 SEC) record. The Commodores get a 'break' from their SEC schedule and host Georgia Tech. Vandy trails the all-time series, 15-18-3. Georgia Tech is coached by Paul Johnson who has a career FBS record of 54-33.

The raw data: Georgia Tech finished 2008, 9-4, and lost to LSU, 38-3, in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Yellow Jackets return 61 lettermen including 10 offensive and 8 defensive starters.

Why we should be worried: They are a very good football team. Remember Vandy's, 17-14, loss to Mississippi State last year? Georgia Tech beat the Bulldogs, 38-7. Bobby Johnson doesn't have a very good track record against Paul Johnson. He is 2-6 versus Paul combined for his career. On offense the Yellow Jackets have both quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Jonathan Dwyer back. The two combined for 2,250 yards rushing last year. On defense safety Morgan Burnett is back. He led Tech in tackles in 2008 with 93 but also had 7 tackles for losses and an incredible 7 interceptions.

Why we should be optimistic: Hey, those losses by Bobby to Paul were a long time ago. It's a new day at Vandy. Bobby won't fall for Paul's trickery this time around. One additional plus in Vandy's favor is that fact that they'll already have a game under their belts against a team that runs the option (Army).

What might happen: It may sound crazy but I think with Vandy's early season success they'll turn out a little flat for this one while Georgia Tech will be bouncing off the walls for an SEC team. This one is going to be rumble in Music City, a brutal game of attrition. Look for this one to go back and forth with Georgia Tech scoring late to pull it out. Hopefully there are not many injuries on either team.

Predicted Score: Georgia Tech 17 Vanderbilt 13

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