The School: The University of South Carolina
Record: 5-2 (3-2 in the SEC). This game looked much more winnable back in September, when USC was losing to Kentucky and Vandy had held opponents, including one ranked one, to 4.6 points per game.
That, uh, didn’t last.
Ranking: 31st in the AP Top 25 and 29th in the Coaches' Poll. Jeff Sagarin has South Carolina rated 37th in his rankings (Vandy fell from 67th to 80th because they gave up 54 more points to Ole Miss than Alabama did).
Mascot: The television and literary signifier of scumbags everywhere, the fighting chicken. Even Kramer had Little Jerry Seinfeld, and we all saw what a racist piece of shit he turned out to be.
Location: Columbia, South Carolina. You know all the good parts of South Carolina? Where palmetto trees hang over beaches and cool breezes make even the hottest summer nights gorgeous? A place where you sit in the sand and sip a cold beer, its sweat slowly dissolving into a humid koozie as you watch the waves in front of you, the world dissipating behind you?
Columbia is 150 miles from there.
Coach: Human rage emoji Will Muschamp.
Conference: The ESS-EEE-CEE. Added in 1990 for all that sweet, sweet Charleston TV market money. Currently the reason why we can’t invite Clemson to the party.
All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 22-4. Oh.
In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 8-2.
The greatest football moment of my tenure at Vanderbilt was Bobby Johnson somehow beating a No. 5 South Carolina team in Columbia, and I had no way to watch it because even the local broadcast channels were like “yeah, we get it, they’re going to flush this game away like a rotten turd, as is tradition.” Thank you, 2007 Gamecocks, for being the turd that refused to flush.
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Derek Mason taught us never to trust him by yanking Kyle Shurmur in the middle of a game Vandy led 10-0 and replacing him with Wade Freebeck, who played as though he was as shocked as the rest of us. The Commodores lost 13-10 and it took the offense 10 weeks to recover.
Mason has since learned a new way to toy with Vanderbilt fans; by going 3-0 and then using Mon-Stars technology on the Commodore defense. Not the kind that turns you into behemoths. The one that forces you to sign a 50-year-old Bill Murray.
Is Vandy Favored?: No. Vanderbilt is a 6.5-point underdog and, you know what? I’m OK with that number. That seems ....reasonable.
Most Potent Offensive Threat: Vanderbilt has given up 198 points in four SEC games so far. Muschamp’s offense could field a team exclusively made of Make a Wish kids on Saturday and I’d still pick the over.
Is Bruce Ellington still on the team? I feel like Bruce Ellington is still on the team. Even if he’s not, expect him to come back just to mess things up for Vandy. Seems like the kind of thing he’d do.
Most Potent Defensive Threat: Former Vanderbilt target Skai Moore is still at South Carolina and still awesome. Sometimes I think about a defense with Moore and Zach Cunningham together at linebacker and it makes me happy, much like a seventh grader writing “Ms. Zayn Malik” in her notebook over and over again in loopy cursive writing.
Matchup to Watch: Andy Ludwig vs. those plays Karl Dorrell left behind in the coaching offices. Vandy scored 35 points last weekend, but somewhere in the midst of a potential shootout, the Commodore offense fell into a familiar “run middle, run middle, deep pass” rhythm generated from the “Ask Corso” button on NCAA Football 07. The strategy had its moments — and there’s nothing stupid about giving Ralph Webb the ball when he’s on fire — but its predictable nature had the Rebels force six drives of three plays or less.
Interesting Fact: You’re goddamn right there’s a Hootie and the Blowfish monument in Columbia, South Carolina.
If that thing doesn’t smell like the glove compartment of your stepdad’s car — final resting place of 83% of Cracked Rear View CDs — I will cry. No Dolphins needed.
Bonus Fact!: Bobby Weed is from Columbia, South Carolina. I was hoping that would be some awful YouTube personality tween who makes bongs out of old Twisted Tea cans. Instead its just some guy who designs golf courses.
(then makes bongs out of old Oskar Blues’ cans)
(because he’s rich, you see)
If South Carolina wins, we: eye the Vanderbilt basketball schedule wearily. Hey, we all knew this was a tough game coming into the week, and the Commodores’ next three games, all at home, are winnable. Getting beat by the Gamecocks isn’t a disaster, as long as Vandy can put up some semblance of a defense.
If not, then
hey what’s Matthew Fisher-Davis up to these days?