Here is the 2018 Vanderbilt Football schedule through Beer Goggles. I asked my friends around the SEC to liken their team to a beer found in the university’s home town. You’ll find Tom’s preseason opponent preview by clicking on each opponent. You’ll find links to the brewery and the beer in separate links. You’ll also find out why the ‘Dores will win each game.
MTSU was 7-6 in 2017, but four losses came without their starting QB Brent Stockstill. They gave Vanderbilt a run for their money last year. The Velvet Hustle has a “smooth greeting followed by a sly, sharp stab.” It “will easily work its way into your home and then steal your heart.” Just like the Velvet Hustle with its Victory and Honey malts, the Raiders could sneak into the Vanderbilt Stadium with an unassuming smooth start but do more than steal our hearts, but rather rip them out.
Prediction: Win (1-0)
The Depot is the oldest brewery and distillery in Nevada. It parallels nicely with the Wolfpack who were chartered in 1874 as the State University of Nevada. They are proud of their history and don’t much care for those who try and alter it (just ask the little university in Las Vegas who rebelled against the older brother in Reno). The Wolfpack have an explosive offense with seven returning starters and a win in Nashville would be a nice step to returning to bowl eligibility. Nevada has enough pride to embody The Burner, a session lager that is a “perfect thirst quencher for the last hot days of the year,” with a “signature malty backbone,” that lends to a “snappy finish.” The ‘Dores are 15-2 when hosting non-conference opponents since 2011. Expect them to bring Nevada to a snappy finish.
Prediction: Win (2-0)
What do you expect from a University whose mascot is a drunken fighting Irishman? Much like ND, Evil Czech brings in the “highest quality ingredients” and surrounds itself with “people who are as passionate about your product as you.” The Irish won 10 games including an 8-1 start. They return 15 starters and have a QB battle going into the fall. Although losing their top two RB’s and WR, the Irish have steadily produced productive offenses. But it’s hard to not think of them in the description of the beer, “dry medium bodied.. brewed with Irish malt and English hops… flavors of coffee and caramel. Rounded out by earthy hop finish.” In other words, solid, respectable, a good product, but nothing to get too excited about if you’re not an Irish homer. The ‘Dores are the only SEC team the Irish face, and are part of a seven game opening stretch that includes Michigan, Stanford, VT, and Pitt. Going into South Bend and stealing this one would make Brian Kelly’s face at O’Keeffe’s red.
Prediction: Win (3-0)
The Gamecocks are looking for a bit of revival since the program slid at the end of the Head Ball Coach’s tenure. Muschamp has the East in his sites. He took them to a 9-4 (5-3) second place in the division last year. The Gamecocks landed the 21st and 18th ranked classes the last two years but only managed the 8th and 7th ranked classes in the conference. With UGA’s ascendance and new coaches at UF and UT, year three is pivotal for Coach Boom. Otherwise, USCe might be back in their place of East cellar dwellers. A loss to the ‘Dores would make the South Carolina perfect for My Morning Stout. It’s suggested the beer be paired with chicken, pork, or lamp, but it also, “goes nicely with a walk of shame.” You’re 2018 South Carolina Gamecocks!
Prediction: Win (4-0, 1-0)
Of all the hometown breweries, I decided that Tailgate was appropriate for TSU. It does not have the profile of many of the bigger programs. It has a quantity and quality product, but it doesn’t quite know who it is yet as it tries out new combinations to find the winning formula. The Commodores should handle the Tigers on the field and come away with a Victory.
Prediction: Win (5-0, 1-0)
Of all the feedback I received from my SEC friends, UGA was the best and had the most varied opinions. I initially chose Terrapin’s Hopsectutioner because UGA is executing everyone on the recruiting trail and everyone but Alabama on the field. Yet, there is backlash from the fans. Terrapin sold out to a larger company; kind of like the Dawgs sold out to Saban Jr over the good man they called “Coach” for a decade and a half. Southern Brewing Company’s Red and Black is brewed specifically in honor of the Dawg’s. It is smooth and a bit tart like every season under Richt, but too on the nose.
Creature Comforts’ Athena is a Berliner that is a sour but for a surcharge at the draft house, the bartender can add a sweet flavor infusion. To quote my friend Todd, “I’m not sure if anything describes UGA football better than trying to find the perfect balance of adding just enough sweetness to take the bite out of the sour!” Then again, Charlie (the most die hard of all my UGA friends) says, “The Creature Comforts Tropicalia is pretty hot right now.” Let’s settle with Tropicalia.
Hot doesn’t equal victory. It’s a trap game for the Dawgs as they come off of UT and look ahead to a round trip in Baton Rouge. They are starting a new tailback, who will be won’t be splitting carries like last year’s Chubb/Michel tandem, and with 5 star stud QB Justin Fields waiting in the wings, the Georgia faithful will drum up a QB controversy the first time Fromm throws a pick. If you don’t think Mason is licking his chops to expose these weaknesses, then you’re crazy.
Prediction: Win (6-0. 2-0)
I don’t much care for the school in Gainesville. To paraphrase Leslie Knope, it’s a nasty old swamp town. Thus, the Swamp Head Chocolate Orange Udderly Calm Milk Stout is the perfect beer to represent the Gators. They have had a sweet decade of losses starting with the end of the Urban Meyer tenure. The offense has been abysmal. Coach Boom cleaned up the program but didn’t win. McElwain’s biggest accomplishment was “catching” a shark. Cousin Eddie hasn’t recruited well since he’s been in Hog Town. I really hate it for them. Playing them is like “you’ve visited your local chocolatier and bought a bag full of those delicious covered oranges.”
Prediction: Win (7-0, 3-0)
Poor Mark Stoops. He’s had his chances at upsetting traditional East programs and can’t seem to get out of his own way. The Cats will have a new QB but an experienced RB in Benny Snell. Sounds to me like a Mason defense can stop the run and force the Cats to play from behind. Hopefully this year, it’ll be the QB in blue and white throwing for three interceptions. Maybe that’s why Kentucky is best suited as the Pennyrile Pale Ale. It’s “medium body helps carry the hops all the way to the finish, where it meets a balancing bitterness that doesn’t overwhelm.” Kentucky Football, an underwhelming bitter finish!
Prediction: Win (8-0, 4-0)
The feedback from Arkansas was swift and trite. “[They’d be] an IPA. Very bitter, like their fans, and in truth, not very good.” Though not an IPA, the Hog Haus Black Hole Imperial Stout is the perfect choice. It has 8.8% ABV (you’re gonna need it to watch this team) and 66 IBUs. That’s plenty of bitterness. It’s described as, “the ultimate force of gravity, sucking in everything that dares to come near it.” Is there more of a black hole on this schedule than Fayetteville? Nonetheless, the ‘Dores will be primed to sling it around the lot with an experienced passer a defense that only has five returning starters and an Arkansas offense under Chad Morris that likes an up tempo spread offense. This might be the rare case in conference where Vandy can use a spread effectively and find favorable match ups. The last team with the ball could win this one. And that team will be clad in black and gold.
Prediction: Win (9-0, 5-0)
The Tigers came into the East with a bang, but have hit the skids since the Pinkel era ended. They are returning all five starters on the OL and Drew Lock, an experience QB. Their defensive line is good but lacks help in the two units behind it, which makes them a perfect candidate for middle of the road SEC East. The Flat Branch Green Chile Ale says, “hey we want to be spicy, but really we’re “a lighter body... that people can’t seem to get enough of.” Last year, the Tigers were 0-6 against teams with winning records and 7-0 against teams with losing records. They’ll be a borderline game for Vandy. If we can force early three-and-outs and control the tempo, the DL will be worn down and Shurmur and Co can exploit the Tigers in the second half of the game.
Prediction: (10-0, 6-0)
After the absolute program meltdown under Rev. Coach Freeze it’s like the Rebels are in NCAA purgatory. They have 15 returning starters, eight of them on offense and a potent WR corp. But they don’t play much defense, losing their top three starters from last year which gave up 5.4 yards per play. Maybe the Rebels/Bears/Sharks don’t want much attention as they repair the program. Which makes them pair nicely with both Oxford Brewing Company and Yalobusha Brewing Company. Each have little info on their websites and are looking to rebuild/rebrand after the MS State Legislature passed a law allowing for direct sale to consumers. Welcome to the 21st Century! Although, Oxford Brewing Company does have a Sorority Blonde Ale. Little information is available, which makes her ideal for Ole Miss. A vexing blonde who most certainly will win the party.
Prediction: Win (11-0, 7-0)
Since moving to Tennessee, I have grown a steady distaste for Vols fans. They have unreasonable expectations for a state that does not produce a ton of talent, fired the last coach to win them a National Title, hired Derek Dooley, hired someone and then un-hired him 30,000 feet in the air. Sometimes it feels like UT is just 13th grade and the hometown kids are trying to win a game for their neighborhood. Listen, I grew up around UF fans, and they are the worst. But compared to UT fans, at least their expectations are matched with factors needed to be a powerhouse in modern CFB- unlimited funding, a talent rich recruiting base, a national brand, humongous state population, and the best weather to train in (which makes their demise so much better… but I digress). Nonetheless, my reasonable UT friend, Neil, sent over Saw Works Rocky Hop IPA. I trust his decision. It’s an IPA with 5.7% ABV and 58 IBU’s. It’s clearly a die hard UT beer. It’s sufficient to get the job done with a little bitterness. And just like UT, the website is a “Work in Progress.”
Prediction (12-0, 8-0)
If you don’t think we’ll we win every game, then put on the beer goggles by trying each one of these beers. They’ll change you’re mind. With beer, we’re always a winner.
Post Season Beer Goggles coming at the end of the season.