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Vanderbilt ranked 53rd in preseason S&P+

The bad news? That’s last in the SEC.

NCAA Football: Texas Bowl-Baylor vs Vandebilt Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Bill C.’s initial S&P+ projections for the 2019 season have dropped. Vanderbilt ranks 53rd in the initial projections.

The good news? Vanderbilt’s weighted five-year average is 78th, so the Commodores are expected to be above average for Derek Mason’s tenure. Considering that tenure has already produced two bowl bids, that should be good right?

Well, here’s the bad news: that projection is good for last in the SEC. Bill’s initial ratings rely a lot on weighted five-year averages and recruiting rankings in addition to returning production. Meaning that teams like Tennessee and Arkansas that were bad in 2018 are expected to get something of a dead cat bounce: Tennessee is projected 21st and Arkansas 48th.

And Tennessee, at 21, grades as only the sixth-best team on the Commodores’ schedule. Georgia, LSU, and Florida all tank in the top 6, with Missouri and South Carolina in the top 20. Kentucky ranks 37th and Ole Miss 39th.

The good news is that all four nonconference opponents are ranked below Vanderbilt. Purdue is 58th (though that game will be on the road), Northern Illinois is 76th, and UNLV is 100th. ETSU is not ranked.

If the projections are correct, Vanderbilt would be expected to go 4-8, and 3-9 is on the table. Of course, this is why they play the games.