The School: Tennessee State University
Record: 5-1 (2-1 in the OVC). Tennessee State’s only loss came against a team currently ranked 15th in the FCS. These Tigers are on a whole different level than Austin Peay, which means
a) They’re going to put up a fight on Saturday
b) The earth hasn’t become so disgusted with their football efforts that it has tried to swallow their home field whole.
Ranking: No. 25 in the FCS Coaches' Poll. The formulas have TSU rated 147th in the Real Time RPI and 181st in Jeff Sagarin’s ratings. Sagarin also has Vandy ranked higher than 13 other Power 5 Conference teams, including Kentucky and South Carolina, so take that how you will.
Mascot: Aristocat the Tiger. Convenient. If Vanderbilt loses in disgusting fashion we can always claim it was an elaborate joke called “the aristocats.”
Location: Nashville, Tennessee. Total shithole. Hipsters everywhere. Overcrowded. Bad music. Avoid it if you can.
Coach: Rod Reed, who played his college ball for TSU, has been with the team as a coach since 2003, and guided them back to respectability in recent seasons. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about him, at least partially because his bald head/beard combination makes him look at least slightly like Suge Knight.
Conference: The Ohio Valley Conference. Relevant only during SEC non-conference scheduling and one weeknight in March where its conference tournament title game is the only thing on television.
All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 0-1. Vanderbilt has a perfectly viable FCS opponent in its own backyard and avoids them like white audiences and Tyler Perry movies. Instead, Vandy has either invited teams like Richmond, Elon, or Presbyterian to town or forged a schedule without a tailor-made FCS win on it (2008, 2010).
In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 0-0. The only time we saw TSU was in 2006, slightly over a decade ago.
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: An 0-3 Vandy team earned its first win of the season against a Tennessee State. This season also happened to be the last time Vandy beat Georgia in Athens before last week’s win. The lesson here? Schedule the Tigers in even years until UGA willingly flees the SEC.
Anyway, Vandy won despite 138 passing yards, proving this 2016 team has a pretty good chance to repeat history.
Do They Run the Triple Option?: Nope.
Is Vandy Favored?: Yes, if you can find a site with actual odds for an FBS-FCS crossover show. ESPN gives them a 96.3% chance to win. Like everyone else reading this, I also feel reaaaaaaal nervoud about that last 3.7 percent.
Most Potent Offensive Threat: Steven Newbold is a bonafide deep threat. He’s averaged a ridiculous 24.4 yards per reception and had a reception of 30 yards or more in four of seven games this season. Of course, none of those came against an FBS secondary, so there’s a chance he’s roughly as fast as Kyle Shurmur.
Most Potent Defensive Threat: Shurmur has avoided turnovers this fall, but he’ll get tested by defensive back Ezra Robinson. Robinson already has four interceptions this fall, two of which he’s returned for touchdowns. If Vandy’s passing game gets stupid, he could be a problem.
Matchup to Watch: Vanderbilt vs. the letdown game. The Commodores are coming off their biggest win in three years. Losing to a I-AA opponent for the first time in school history would be the fastest and most devastating way to undo all that goodwill.
Interesting Fact: Tennessee State is home to Young Buck, better known as the guy in G-Unit somehow less important than Tony F*cking Yayo.
If Tennessee State wins, we: burn everything to the ground. Neyland Stadium too, because why limit ourselves, you know?