Why the Ohio State game is the best news yet of the CJF era

If I've said it once, I've said it three or four times: when in Vanderbilt's situation, every non-conference football game should either be a guaranteed win or an opportunity to elevate the program.  Non-conference games against the likes of UAB or MTSU or even Duke offer very little reward and a lot to lose, while the national picture has proven that as long as you go 13-0 or 14-0, nobody cares who the 13 or 14 actually were.  Cupcakes, layups, whatever you want to call them; that's our slate.

Except.

If you have a chance to go to Columbus and play Ohio State, one of the Mount Rushmore-type programs and most storied traditions in college football, you have to take it.  It elevates the program.  It puts us on the stage against a power team.  If we get blown away - same old Vandy, whatever, but better to take such a blow from a national title contender than from UConn.

But...

App State beat Michigan.  JMU beat Virginia Tech.  Any given Saturday and all that - there's no reason to think Ohio State is any less vulnerable, and they've struggled in early-season OOC games before.  I don't think CJF would put this game on the board if he thought we were going to Columbus to get the beatdown and slink back with a 56-0 loss on the board.

Here's the thing: we're not going up there with 2010 Vanderbilt to play 2010 Ohio State.  We're going to face a team that could well be reeling from NCAA penalties, that might well have somebody other than Jim Tressel at the controls - and we'll be going after two years of James Franklin's coaching, recruiting, and promotion, and hopefully improved administration support to boot.  This game is a bet: that within two years, Coach Franklin will have pulled us up off the mat, cinched up our gloves, mopped off the blood and given us a puncher's chance.  And besides, isn't it time we joined the long SEC tradition of pummeling that other conference?

This is what the new era of Vanderbilt football is about.  We don't shirk from the challenge.  We don't shy away from taking on the big boys.  We don't make excuses about how hard our conference schedule is, we don't cringe at anything that might take that sixth win away, we don't tuck tail and run.  We stand, we fight.  Anywhere, anytime, anybody.  If you want to put a motto on the crest of the CJF era, make it this: NON TIMEBO MALA.

I. Will. Fear. No. Evil.

All in?

ALL. IN.

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