Vanderbilt will look to rebound from an 0-2 start on Saturday against their only FCS opponent of the season when they take on Presbyterian College at Dudley Field.
After two straight weeks of BCS matchups, the 'Dores will get a bit of a break when the Blue Hose come to Nashville in what appears to be the easiest showdown on the Vandy schedule. Presbyterian is coming off of a 59-3 beating against Georgia Tech. The Hose have only been members of the NCAA's Division I since 2006, and they have lost all four of their matchups against BCS teams by an average margin of 46 points.
They'll look to break that streak against a Vanderbilt team that has been timid on offense since the beginning of their season. The Commodores have just two touchdowns so far this season - both on receptions by Jordan Matthews - and they've been outscored 24-3 in the fourth quarters of their two defeats. However, a fresher offense and a defense buoyed by long scoring drives could make a world of difference against the Blue Hose this weekend.
That means that we should be seeing plenty of the guys who will be the future of this team on the field on Saturday. Austyn Carta-Samuels, Josh Grady, Steven Scheu, Dillon van der Wal, Jacquese Kirk, Tip McKenzie, Brian Kimbrow, and many more will get some reps against the Hose. We also may get to see some of the first-year players that James Franklin has decided will be useful later in the season like Andrew Jelks, Patton Robinette, Ladarius Banks, and others. The players that emerge out of that second category will probably give us a good idea of who will and won't be redshirting in 2012.
The game itself shouldn't be much of a test. I expect Jordan Rodgers to regain his confidence against a team that won't give him trouble on the defensive front. He'll have the time to set up stop in the pocket and the speed advantage to run for first downs when the situation arises. Jordan Matthews could end up with 100 receiving yards by the end of the first half if all goes well for the Commodores, and Zac Stacy may not be far behind with his rushing total.
The biggest test of the day will be to see how the Vandy defense holds up against a capable Blue Hose rushing attack. Presbyterian ran for 145 yards against Georgia Tech in last week's blowout loss, and the 'Dores will have something to prove after allowing Venric Mark and Marcus Lattimore to have big days against them. If Vanderbilt can keep Presbyterian under 100 rushing yards for the game, then I'll count this one as a moral victory. That is, on top of the almost certain beating that the 'Dores will put on their outmanned opponent.
Hey, did you know that Roy Skinner was a Vandy alum? The more you know.
The Prediction: Vanderbilt 48, Presbyterian 7
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Arizona State over Missouri. I don't have much reason to watch the Sun Devils now that Vontaze Burfict is no longer with the team, but I'd give them a puncher's chance this weekend. ASU is a six point underdog to the Tigers on the road, despite Mizzou's second-half no-show against Georgia in their SEC opener. Arizona State has rolled over both their opponents this year, but that's only been Northern Arizona and an underwhelming Illinois team. Still, they can score a bunch of points, and that's all the Bulldogs had to do last week to win in Columbia.
KingJamesIV: I completely agree that this game is a cure-all when it comes to jumpstarting the offense. The Commodore football team is absolutely going to take out its frustrations on the Blue Hose tomorrow. That much is a given. Let’s stop and take a moment to reassess things. Think about where this team was back at the end of 2010: there were fewer fans at the Wake Forest game at the end of the regular season than I have ever seen in Vanderbilt Stadium. Now look how far the program, the university, and the players have come since James Franklin arrived on campus. It is astounding.
Has the team started off the season the way we all wanted? Of course not. I guarantee you nobody is more upset than the players and the coaches. Is it time to panic? Absolutely not. These men have worked too damn hard for the last 20 months. We’re going to see them dig in their heels, face the adversity, and push back in a way that we’ve never seen before with Vanderbilt football. They’re going to scratch and claw their way forward. It all starts tomorrow. Sorry Presby.
The Prediction: Vanderbilt 52, Presbyterian 10.
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Western Kentucky over Kentucky. Kentucky is currently a 7 point favorite. Are they more the team that showed up against Kent State, or more the team that showed up against Louisville? We’re going to learn a little bit more about Kentucky this week as they play a Hilltopper team more than capable of pulling off the upset.