Vanderbilt took advantage of UMass's inexperience at the FBS level to climb back to .500 for the season. The Commodores routed the Minutemen 49-7 to improve to 4-4 on the season.
Vandy used a 28 point third quarter to turn a vaguely competitive game into a blowout. The 'Dores got an interception return for a touchdown by Trey Wilson and a 40-yard punt return to roll out to a 49-0 lead before easing off the gas in the fourth quarter. Jordan Rodgers had one of his strongest games as a quarterback in the win, completing 17 of 21 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns - two passing - to inch Vanderbilt closer to bowl eligibility.
The Commodores got off to a slow start, keeping the Minutemen within striking distance throughout the first half. Vandy failed to convert a 4th and one at the UMass 15 early in the second quarter, and Massachusetts swung that momentum into a 74 yard drive that threatened to tie the game at 7 apiece late in the first half. Fortunately, Chase Garnham and Barron Dixon were able to squelch the Minuteman drive at the Vandy nine-yard line on 4th and oneto turn the tides and unleash a Commodore barrage.
Vandy punted on their next drive, but responded on their next two drives to push the lead to 21-0 at the half. The third quarter was all Commodores as a combination of offense, defense, and special teams ran that lead out to 49-0 by the end of the quarter. Brian Kimbrow, getting snaps in place of a resting Zac Stacy, stole the show with a 75-yard touchdown run that effectively sealed the game for James Franklin's team with 2:44 left in the third.
Kimbrow and Rodgers were Vandy's two stars on offense. The senior quarterback carved up UMass's inexperienced defense to the tune of an 81 percent completion rate and sterling 10.33 yards per passing attempt. Kimbrow finished his night with 98 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries in the rout. Wesley Tate, who earned the bulk of Vandy's runs on Saturday, finished with an impressive 81 yards and a touchdown on 15 rushes as well.
The one negative for Vanderbilt was an injury to star tailback Zac Stacy. Stacy left the game in the first half due to an apparent ankle sprain. His status for next week is uncertain at the moment.
The win improves the Commodores to 4-4 on the season and puts James Franklin only two wins from making school history. If Vanderbilt can reach six wins this season, they'll earn back-to-back bowl game berths for the first time in school history. They'll have the chance to move closer to that record next week when they head to Kentucky for a SEC matchup.