It’s been a trying month for the Vanderbilt Commodores. After a 2-0 start to the season, they’ve lost five of their last six — and the lone win was just barely scraping by FCS Tennessee State.
Granted, four of the five losses have come against teams currently ranked #3 (Notre Dame), #7 (Georgia), #9 (Florida), and #12 (Kentucky.) And three of those losses were by ten points or less. Of course, we’ve also become accustomed to losing close games to good teams. Beating actual good teams has been a different matter.
Another thing we’re accustomed to: when a beatable team appears on the schedule, we lose that game, too. This week’s opponent is Arkansas, a team that, like Vanderbilt, is 0-4 in the SEC and 2-6 overall with losses to Colorado State and North Texas. The Razorbacks’ only two wins of the season came against FCS Eastern Illinois and 1-6 Tulsa. Surely we can win this, right? Oh, but you’re not familiar with Vanderbilt football.
Remember the 2014 coaching search after James Franklin took the Penn State job? Chad Morris, then the offensive coordinator at Clemson, was one of the finalists, ultimately losing out to Derek Mason. Morris then took the SMU job (fun fact: SMU was founded by the Methodist Church in response to Vanderbilt disassociating itself from the Methodists!) and went 14-23 in three years, and that somehow got him the Arkansas job.
Now, he’s taking over the wreckage from the end of the Bret Bielema era and currently sports a 2-6 record. He’s yet to win an SEC game. This sounds like the kind of game that Vanderbilt can win, right? Wrong. Vanderbilt will lose this, because of course we will.
The Pick: Arkansas 24, Vanderbilt 21.
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: I guess Arkansas beating us technically qualifies as an upset, but I will instead go with Kentucky (+7) over MISSOURAH, because oh my God who puts together these lines?
Arkansas may be the perfect opponent for Vanderbilt to get their first SEC win of 2018. The Razorbacks are improving, but they were so bad to start the season that it should not be enough unless the Commodores play poorly in Fayetteville. Arkansas has not been good defensively, and their offense has not been any better. If Ke’Shawn Vaughn plays, I would expect a comfortable win...except for the propensity for Vanderbilt football weirdness that Tom mentioned. Even still, Vaughn or not, this team is finally not playing a Top 15 team on the road and will win.
The Pick: Arkansas 17, Vanderbilt 31.
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: While I agree with Tom, I think the more obvious idiocy on the betting line is Texas A&M being a 1 point underdog in Starkville. The new-look Aggies are going to silence the cowbells.
I had this as a win even before Arkansas’ abysmal start. Then we lost a bunch of winnable games, and Arkansas got better. Yes, our losses have been to largely top 15 opponents, but we should have won at least two (probably more) of them. The dark abyss of Vanderbilt football has taken all optimism I have for this team. Because I cannot even have joy reading a sports blog anymore, we’re going to lose. We’re going to lose and then we’re going to have the fun (see: awful) conversation of whether Chad Morris would have been the better choice for VU (he wouldn’t have).
The Pick: Arkansas 28 - Vanderbilt 17
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Siding with Tom on this spat, Kentucky over Mizzou is the clearer idiocy. State stands an outside chance of beating Aggie.
Andrew VU ‘04
I mean... can we not right now? This season has just been so damned dull. I don’t mind the losing, but the boredom is soul crushing. Since the Notre Dame loss, we have clearly been playing not to lose, rather than playing to win. Scratch that, we’re more playing not to lose by too much.
The play-calling has been uninspired. The defense has just been meh. Everyone, including us fans, are just going through the motions until basketball season. The past few weeks, I have been choosing to DVR the games and going on long walks with the lady friend, or worse yet, doing work during the live broadcasts.
These are not the weekends I want.
Arkansas is terrible, but they just kicked the crap out of Tulsa. They have some momentum building.
We are cromulent at best, and play so conservatively, our whole team resembles Grant Wood’s American Gothic.
End this madness already. You already have the pitchfork in hand. We want Harvin! We want Harvin!
The Pick: Arkansas More Points, Vanderbilt Fewer Points.
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: I will be upset, and will likely throw something at the TV. aTm will knock off Clanga, too.