Vanderbilt Opponents 2009- Part IV

Vanderbilt's fourth quarter of the season will be very challenging. In part IV of our preview of the Commodores' 2009 opponents we take a look at Vanderbilt's games with Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee. We also make a prediction on who will win the game. ALERT: Larry Smith has been named the starting quarterback for Vandy for their Saturday night opener versus Western Carolina.

Vanderbilt vs. Florida
November 7, 2009

Overview: Vandy heads off to Gainesville already bowl eligible with 6-3 or 7-2 (3-2 or 4-1 SEC) record. Florida, the defending national champions, will present a colossal challenge. Florida will be coming off a big win against Georgia in Jacksonville.

The raw data: Florida finished the 2008 season with a 13-1 record. The Gators are coached by Urban Meyer (83-17) who is entering his fifth year at Florida. The Gators return 50 lettermen including 7 offensive and 11 defensive starters.

Why we should be worried: Well, not too many teams will have good days at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium this season. The Gators are again loaded; they have a Heisman Trophy winner under center. Tim Tebow was they team's leading rusher (673 yds) and passer (2,746 yds) last season. He had an amazing 30 to 4 touchdown to interception ratio. He has four of five offensive linemen returning to protect him. On defense absolutely everybody is back, yes, the top 21 tacklers are back. Junior strong safety Ahmad Black had seven interceptions last year.

Why we should be optimistic: Vanderbilt did something Florida couldn't do last year: beat Ole Miss. If Vandy can beat Ole Miss in Oxford and Ole Miss can beat Florida in Gainesville it follows that the Commodores should at least have a micron of a chance to top the Gators on the road. Florida will be coming off a big game against Georgia and might be a little flat like they were last year when the Rebs visited. Tebow is a great player and he means a lot to Florida, however, he's going to have several tough games to play in before Vanderbilt. You should never wish anyone ill will, and I'm certainly not, but he could be hurt for the Vanderbilt game and that would definitely increase the 'Dores chances.

What might happen: Look for Tebow to be healthy against Vandy. He'll come in and be Tim Tebow, lead the Gators on an initial touchdown drive. Then Vandy will punt after a three-and-out. Tebow will be Superman again and lead the Gators for another score. Vandy will punt again. . . . you get the picture?

Predicted Score: Florida 49 Vanderbilt 7




Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky
November 14, 2009

Overview: The likely 6-4 or 7-3 (3-3 or 4-2 SEC) Commodores return home for a visit from the Kentucky Wildcats. UK will be coming off a likely home victory over Eastern Kentucky.

The raw data: Like Vanderbilt, Kentucky finished the 2008 season 7-6. The Cats return 50 lettermen including 7 offensive and 5 defensive starters. Rich Brooks is entering his seventh year at Kentucky and has a 123-150-4 career record.

Why we should be worried: These Wildcats had won four straight over Vandy prior to last year's win in Lexington. Brooks is an old school coach who will have his team ready despite the heavy losses on defense. Wide receiver Randall Cobb is back for the Cats. He played some quarterback last year when starter Mike Harline when down with an injury. Cobb caught 21 passes and rushed for 316 yards a year ago. On defense senior linebacker Micah Johnson returns. Last season Johnson had 93 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for losses.

Why we should be optimistic: Half of UK's linebackers, secondary and defensive line are now gone. Sure some might say the backups were good but there was a reason why those guys were starters last year and they will be missed. It's a home game for Vandy also. Vanderbilt Stadium should be rocking with such a great season going.

What might happen: Hard-hitting, knock down drag out football! Vanderbilt and Kentucky are always exciting for fans of both schools. This one will come down to a last-minute field goal.

Predicted Score: Vanderbilt 20 Kentucky 17




Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee
November 21, 2009

Overview: Vanderbilt takes a trip to Tennessee to try to improve their likely 7-4 or 8-3 (4-3 or 5-2 SEC) record. This game could have major bowl ramifications for Vandy. A win could put them in a better-known New Year's bowl while a loss could mean a trip back to the Music City Bowl (what Vandy fan would be complaining about any bowl?).

The raw data: The Vols finished the 2008 season 5-7. They defeated Vanderbilt 20-10 in Nashville. Led by first-year head coach Lane Kiffin, the Vols return 45 lettermen including 7 offensive and 6 defensive starters.

Why we should be worried: There will be 105,000 screaming fans in Neyland Stadium, 99 percent of them wearing orange. Vandy has given the Vols problems at home two times in a row and the UT players will remember that. All-American safety Eric Berry is back. Vandy fans were wishing he a "pick six" in Nashville last season. Berry is probably the second best player in the SEC after Tim Tebow. On offense the Vols have a receiver Gerald Jones back who caught 30 passes a year ago.

Why we should be optimistic: Vandy certainly can win in Knoxville and they proved it in 2005 when they pulled it out, 28-24, and then in 2007 a field goal attempt by Bryant Hahnfeldt bounced off an upright to give the Vols the close victory, 25-24. UT has serious problems at the quarterback position and look for the VU defense to exploit that.

What might happen: There's a lot of football to be played before this one but look for another defensive battle like last season. This game could go either way but I'll pick Vanderbilt because they are the good guys.

Predicted Score: Vanderbilt 17 Tennessee 14

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