The School: The University of Georgia
Record: 1-0 (0-0 in the SEC, 10-3 in 2014)
Ranking: 10th in the AP Poll and ninth in the Coaches'. The formulas have Georgia rated eighth in the Real Time RPI (Vanderbilt is #132...good lord) and 11th in Warren Nolan's rankings (Vandy is 81st, but it's so early that the rankings are mostly meaningless).
Mascot: The Bulldogs. Bulldogs were scary once, right? Because at this point they just look like someone hot-glued some legs on a hairy mini-keg:
I have serious concerns about that thing being able to see victims beyond its own shoulders, let alone being able to bite anything that isn't placed directly in its mouth. If this picture had audio, it would just be a loop of Biggest Loser contestants weezing as they attempt to climb stairs.
Location: Athens, GA.
Conference: The ESS-EEE-CEE.
All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 54-19-2. Vandy is only a 35-year win streak away from tying this thing up!
In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 8-2. NEVER FORGET
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Vanderbilt had the misfortune of playing UGA before Todd Gurley's knee exploded, which made things difficult. Of course, Gurley didn't even need lateral movement to burn the 'Dores last year, since he completed the only pass of his college career for a 50-yard gain in last year's game:
For comparison, here's Vanderbilt's Stephen Rivers against Georgia in that same game. Keep in mind that one of these men has actually been trained to throw a football:
Watching Stephen Rivers in 2015 was like watching the first 30 minutes of an episode of Intervention. Has there ever been an episode where the family just gives up and starts huffing keyboard duster once it becomes clear that rehab isn't an option? I feel like I'd have a lot of common ground with those people.
Is Vandy Favored?: No. But they're only 20.5 point underdogs, and that's a full 12 points better than where Vegas had pegged them in 2014. Explain THAT, Derek Mason critics.
Most Potent Offensive Threat: Nick Chubb. On Thursday, Vanderbilt held a top-20 tailback to only 56 yards. On Saturday, they'll have to deal with a runner that Sports Illustrated rates as a top-1 tailback. The Commodores have one of the most underrated defensive fronts thanks to the presence of Adam Butler, Jay Woods, Nifae Lealao, and Caleb Azubike, but they'll have a much more difficult time clogging running lanes against UGA than they did against Western Kentucky. Chubb ran for 77 yards in the first half of Georgia's opener against Louisiana-Monroe and a big performance in his first SEC game could set the tone for a Heisman-winning season.
Those are all very impressive accomplishments for a young man whose wooden hand was supposed to have cut him down in his prime.
Most Potent Defensive Threat: Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd were preseason first team All-SEC picks thanks to their ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Those two combined for 18 tackles for loss (11 sacks) in 2014 and kicked off their 2015 season with 15 total tackles (1.5 sacks) in that 51-14 win over ULM. That's bad news for a Commodore offensive line that struggled to keep a bad Western Kentucky defense from putting pressure on Johnny McCrary. On the plus side, McCrary will be much harder to knock over than human candlepin Stephen Rivers.
Matchup to Watch: Trent Sherfield vs. the UGA secondary. Sherfield slid into the WR1 spot this summer and played like a top wideout against Western Kentucky. He led the team with four receptions for 63 yards and proved that he can be an explosive runner after the catch as well as a sure handed receiver in traffic. His two-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-goal gave this team's comeback effort legitimacy with 33 seconds left in the game. While his coming-out party was a boon for Vanderbilt football, it could have a negative effect on Sherfield's productivity. Western Kentucky had almost no tape of Sherfield's offensive contributions after he played sparingly as a freshman. Georgia won't have that problem - and they're going to be ready for the Commodores' new top receiver.
Interesting Fact: Back in August, we wrote a story about how Georgia Southern fans wanted to play Vanderbilt at home. That was more than three weeks ago, but we're still getting Tweets and comments about it, including multiple suggestions that Vanderbilt cede their spot in the SEC to the Eagles. In the end, it turns out that football lunacy isn't just central to Athens and the Bulldogs. It fills the volume of the state of Georgia like a gas.
Bonus Fact!: Gurley, not content with just beating the Commodores on the gridiron in 2014, also managed to drive Vanderbilt's all-time leading rusher Zac Stacy out of St. Louis after the Rams drafted him this spring. Stacy wound up with the New York Jets, which is the NFL equivalent of having to tell all your neighbors that you're a sex offender.
If Georgia wins, we: return to the internet to discuss whether or not it is right to announce Derek Mason's home address over the Dudley Field loudspeakers. Last week's loss to Western Kentucky has generated more than 800 comments about whether or not Mason should be fired (from his position, out of a cannon, or otherwise). Another 27-point defeat to Georgia won't do much to smother those flames, but a come-from-ahead defeat with two more red zone turnovers could be enough to turn our comments section into 1992 Sarajevo.