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SATURDAY TAILGATE - KENTUCKY

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Prepare yourself for the day of football! AoG's Saturday Tailgate is here!

Everyone wants to have a beer with the Spurdog.
Everyone wants to have a beer with the Spurdog.
Frederick Breedon

Well, Saturday morning is here again.  That means only one thing - that I'm a psychopath who's here to refresh you on what's been going on on AoG and around the league!  Prepare for a Saturday of NCAA ball, for it's SATURDAY TAILGATE!

AoG WEEK IN REVIEW

2 kickoffs returned for a TD by the same player in a game. -- A SEC RECORD!

We lost to Carolina, but it was not the shellacking that everyone seemed to expect it to be.  The spread was 21.5, predictions were worse than that, and really, we played well all game.  The success came from a variety of improvements on all sides of the ball.  The offense moved the ball well with both Wade Freebeck and Patton Robinette.  Not only that, Webb covered 97 yards on 19 carries, furthering his bid to shatter FR rushing records.  The defense stripped the ball an incredible FOUR times (but only recovered one).  Oh, we also put a huge scare into USC by going up 14-0, in no small part because Darrius Sims is a BEAST.

The response to the game was immediate.  People were impressed during the game, and that optimism pervaded the whole week at AoG.  Andrew VU'04 was so overcome with optimism that he came right out with a beautiful piece about how much the team has changed. "We have a football team again," VU04 says, further stating that this coaching staff has shown us what many of us were aching for all week.  This team came in with a plan, and they went for it.  While winning is of course nice, if this team keeps this up, a two win season is palatable.  Why? We have a football team again - one capable of great things in the future.

We have a football team again -Andrew VU'04

VandyImport's weekly hangover was also optimistic.  I have to agree with him when he states that the team we saw play USC is a team that beats Temple and UMass handedly.  It's a team that at least gives Mississippi a fight, it's the team we've become accustomed to seeing.  We've got a ton of weapons on offense that are clearly going to become huge playmakers.  Is Webb the next Zac Stacy? VI seems to think so, and it's a hard thing to argue.  Between him, Trent Sherfield, Wade Freebeck, Steven Scheu, Darrius Sims and of course Patton "the General" Robinette, this team is going to be trouble sooner rather than later.  As Spurdog himself told Coach Mason, "Y'all played a hell of a game. You're gonna win some this year."

CDA shares in our optimism.  As many of us were bemoaning the death of Vanderbilt football, this team refused to let it happen.  They never crumbled and took every mistake they've made (and there's been plenty) and used them as a teachable moment.  Between Robinette and Freebeck, this offense QUARDUPLED their output against Mississippi.  Quadrupled it.  There were also a number of times in the game the team could have just rolled over, and they didn't.  This team refuses to give up.

When you get right down to the Xs and Os, this team is just simply playing better.  In my Talkin' Tape for this week, I cover some of the detail of three of our biggest plays.  Webb is becoming such a huge concern for other teams that we're going to be making some huge plays by trickery in the coming weeks.  That end around to Sherfield can also be tweaked to be even more deadly (as if 25 yards isn't enough).  One thing I've gotta credit Coach Dorrell with is that this team is certainly playing more towards their personnel week to week.  I'm lovin' it.

Finally, Andrew VU'04 and I sat down and discussed the state of VU football now that we are 1/3 of the way into the season.  While we both shared degrees of pessimism upon the way the season started, this team is going places.  Freebeck is possibly the next Jay Cutler, and we might actually win a conference game this year.

Most importantly of all, we had not a single negative article this week.  As always, we strongly encourage all our readers to write whenever the fancy tickles them.  After all, we're all just Vandy fans with day jobs.  If you've got something you want to share with us, do it!

AROUND THE LEAGUE

There were some GREAT games last week, and you may have missed some of them because of the Vandy game.  Let's review:

  • This was the best I could find... ouch Clemson fans.
    #1 FSU 23 - #22 Clemson 17 (OT). This game was a barnburner, and that's really a surprise given that FSU spent the whole game without Jameis Winston. The game was never more than one score apart, and when FSU tied the game mid-4th, OT seemed assured. Then Clemson intercepted a FSU pass at midfield, and returned it to the FSU 26. Disaster struct for Clemson as they decided that was the time to fumble the ball at the FSU 14 yard line. Clemson started OT dejected, and Dabo Swinney elected to try for the first down on a 4th and 1 instead of taking the chip in FG. FSU played well, but really lucked out to get the win.
  • #2 Oregon 38 - Washington St. 31. Marcus Mariota had another incredible performance the flavor of which we're used to seeing from Oregon QBs now. People also expected that Wazzu QB Conner Halliday would have a big night (he did, 436 yards on 43 completed passes). No one predicted, however, Wazzu to hold on and give the Ducks a run for their money down to the wire. This game was a back and forth slugfest, tied even with ~9 minutes left in the game before Oregon broke the tie with 5:30 left. Wazzu fought back, got down to the Oregon 38 yard line... then, in a moment that many Vaderbilt fans will relate to, Oregon textbook interfered with a Wazzu receiver. It was blatant, but the Pac-12 refs apparently have a "screw over Wazzu" rule. Ducks survive.
  • Mississippi St. 34 - #8 LSU 29. This was shameful. In case you didn't know, before Saturday, LSU had only 2 losses in Death Valley in the last 5 seasons. They were both to #1 teams. Oh, by the way, State also had lost the last 14 games to LSU. History was not on the side of the bulldogs marching into the greatest cathedral to college football. From the start, it was bad omens for the Tigers. State went up 17-0, and were undeterred by a LSU return of a fumble early in the second half, responding with another 17 points. The stadium emptied, on national TV, shaming all of us that wear the purple and gold. Then, LSU-Les Miles-Death Valley magic came through. LSU scored 3 unanswered TDs, two of which were within 30 seconds of each other. With ~1:30 left, LSU tried and failed to get and onside kick, but forced MSU to a quick 3 and out. A desperation pass just wasn't in the cards however, and LSU fell short.
  • I bet those "fans" who left early felt stupid.
    Arizona 49 - California 45. Arizona continues their UNDEFEATED SEASON (yeah, did you know Arizona is 4-0?) with a 36 point 4th quarter. I'm just so happy we don't play Arizona as they threw all over Cal, throwing for over 520 yards, getting all 5 TDs through the air. Down 45-43, at midfield, 4 seconds left, Arizona completed the Hail Mary in QUADRUPLE-coverage.
  • Indiana 31 - #18 Missouri 27. I honestly only saw the end of this game, but many of us here at AoG did as well. I therefore will just remind y'all of the hilariousness of a team losing to Indiana. I also want to remind you that Mizzou was a school that begged to be in the Big10 (and was repeatedly denied) before being let into the SEC.

That about does it for what happened last week.  Well, y'all know I love Spurdog, so here's his postgame after playing us.  Even EDSBS said that "Hatin' Ass Spurrier" really just is regular Spurrier this week.

THERE'S OTHER FOOTBALL THIS WEEK!

I'm just going to toot my horn for a moment here.  All three of the games I told you to watch last week turned out to be awesome and worth watching.  Well, the LSU-State game wasn't so awesome if you were a Tigers fna like me, but still.  If you had paid attention, you not only saw Clemson Clemson-it-up, State win, but you also saw the Arizona-Cal game.  I'm the best, and so if you're reading these whole things, you're learning that too.

Looking at the schedule this week, I pretty much just said to myself, "thank God Conference play is underway."  Still, there's not a whole lot of great games in store this week, here's some of the ones I'm interested in:

  • #1 FSU - NC State. A lot of people are going to put that close game against Clemson on Jameis not palying. That's fine, and maybe it's true, and is even a reason to watch to see how FSU responds with the talented QB back in the lineup. NC State has started this season the best it has since Phillip Rivers has been there. NCSU has averaged over 500 yards a game, but after a woeful game against Presbyterian, not even the NCSU fans are optimistic. On the flipside, FSU fans are about as optimistic about this game as Kentucky fans are about ours (most of them picking 3-4 TD victories). That said, it's worth keeping your eye on this one. If NCSU pulls an upset, there's going to be more than 100 points scored in the game.
  • Tennessee - #12 Georgia. You need to watch this game. Granted, it starts 12 ET, so you'll just have to keep an eye on it, but it's a game you have to watch as best you can. How Tennessee handles UGA's running game, particulkarly Todd Gurley, is going to be particular interest to me. Tennessee is going to lose, but I'm not convinced that 17 point spread is fair.
  • Oregon State - #18 Southern Cal. It really pains me to list this game, really, it does. Like seriously, get some errands done mid-afternoon because there's really nothing on. When you're relaxing later in the evening though, this is a game to watch, and that's why it's my STONE COLD LATE GAME OF THE CENTURY (OF THE WEEK). It has the potential for some fun and hijinks as the always arrogant Southern Cal crowd is still pissy about their "deserving to win" over BC two weeks ago. Oregon St. rolls into Los Angeles 3-0, facing a USC team that has had two weeks to prepare. Oregon St. are 9 point underdogs, and haven't won in LA since 1960 (if you think things like that mean anything [I don't]). So while the numbers really aren't on the side of the Beavers, the prospect of watching crying Southern Cal fans is too much to resist.

If you don't like my picks, you can always refer to our full weekly viewing guide here.

PREPARE - FOR COMMODORES FOOTBAW!

Ok, if you haven't seen it yet, you absolutely need to see Mason's pep talk to his troops before the game against USC.   Then, wander on over to this week's "better know a..." and remind yourself of our old division foes.  Did you know that there's only two teams that Vandy doesn't have a losing record against in the SEC?  They're Auburn and Kentucky.  That's a little misleading though, because we're technically tied with Kentucky.  So this game isn't just a bid for BOTH teams to get on the road to a bowl game.  It's a bid for bragging rights in the all-time record. Still, that spread was 15.5 and it's gone up to 18.  Hilarious, considering not even USC covered those spreads.

The combination of our poor play and Kentucky improving significantly in the last year(s) has given the Cayuts fans tremendous confidence.  This is all over A Sea of Blue, and you can subject yourself to it if you want.  More importantly, and more sanely, you can read UK fans' reactions to our questions over at our Q&A session here.  Interested in the questions our enemies thought were worth asking?  You can see ‘em along with fearless leader CDA's answers over at Sea of Blue.

Finally, let's get down to raw predictions.  We've got ours here, and our friends at Sea of Blue here.

GAMETIME!

It's gametime, but that doesn't mean you can't eat like a champion.  I'm a week late in delivering this, but you gotta try Dinard'oh's "The Huntsman and Shrub".  It's friggin' delicious.  The game thread will be up bright and early y'all, so I'm expecting to see you ALL there.  It's not like you have anything to do noon on a Saturday during football season.

Just a reminder - the audio feed is now FREE on VUCommodores.com (link below) and starts at 10:15 ET (09:15 CT)

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GAMETIME: 12:00 ET (11:00 CT)

LOCATION: COMMONWEALTH STADIUM, LEXINGTON, KY

TV: SEC NETWORK+ (OVERFLOW SECN)

RADIO: 1510 AM, 95.9 FM, 98.3 FM

GAMETRACKER: Click this link

AUDIO FEED (FREE): Click this link (VUCommodores, FREE!)

VIDEO FEED: ESPN3.com (cable agreement required)

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ANCHOR DOWN Y'ALL!