So... I guess this is my thing now? Vanderbilt football is back, and with it is the Saturday Tailgate, your open thread for non-Vanderbilt football.
College football’s first week has sadly become a festival of neutral-site games, which I guess is an improvement over the old Week 1 of Top 25 teams beating down overmatched opponents. But this year, the people making the matchups for the neutral-site games seem to have misfired. The annual kickoff game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta features a matchup between Alabama, your perennial national title co-favorite, and Duke, a basketball school that finished last year 8-5 and ended its regular season with a 59-7 loss to Wake Forest. Though the Blue Devils did smash Temple in the Independence Bowl. In Charlotte, South Carolina meets North Carolina which, snooze. At the very least, the Arlington kickoff game got Auburn and Oregon in the lone Top 25 matchup of Week 1. And the neutral-site game between Boise State and Florida State isn’t a neutral-site game any more, with the game being moved from Jacksonville to Tallahassee due to the approach of Hurricane Dorian. Meanwhile, the Florida-Miami game in Orlando didn’t even make it to Week 1.
But Week 1 isn’t making up for it with compelling games on campus. Of the ten SEC teams playing nonconference games today, only one is an underdog. That’s Ole Miss, which makes the short trip up to Memphis for an 11 AM game. Should the Rebels beat the Tigers, there’s a decent chance that the SEC will be 12-0 against non-SEC teams through the first week of the season. Auburn is a 3-point favorite over Oregon; everybody else is favored by double digits. (You can read about it in the Bad Gambling Advice column.)
And outside the SEC and the neutral-site games, the best game on tap is... Northwestern-Stanford? Virginia Tech-Boston College? Virginia-Pitt? Fresno State-USC? It’s not a great slate is what I’m saying.
But it’s football, and if you’re here, you probably like football.
AoG Week in Review
And this week, with no game last week to review, it’s all looking forward to tonight’s game against Georgia. Shawn previewed Georgia’s offense and I previewed Georgia’s defense, and MaconDawg from Dawg Sports stopped by to answer some questions about UGA. Shawn also took a “Beer Goggles” look at the Bulldogs.
Derek Mason had his first press conference of the season, and also released the first depth chart of the season — which actually didn’t tell us a ton. One thing I’ve noticed is that the depth charts Vanderbilt releases are almost always basically just last week’s depth chart, and the season-opening depth chart is no different: for all intents and purposes, it’s the depth chart from the Texas Bowl in December, only with the graduated players removed and replaced with “or” designations. It’.’s actually not clear why they even release a depth chart at all. The only thing of note is that Vanderbilt listed four defensive linemen, an indication that the defense has evolved from a 3-4 to a 4-3 in response to SEC teams going with spread offenses.
I also took a look around the league, which really just meant the one game from last Saturday. We also have an ongoing pick ‘em contest (which I am winning after Week 0), and if you’re new here, we have a helpful field guide to the site.
We’ve got a 6:30 PM kickoff against the Georgia Bulldogs. This is actually the fourth time in the last eight years that we’ve opened the season with a conference game. To put that in context, the SEC as a whole has had six conference games in the first week of the season in that time span. Two of them coincided with the SEC Network launch in 2014 (did we play a game on the SEC Network in that first week? I don’t recall it) and the other four have involved us. The only team that even comes close to that is South Carolina, which has played three — one in the 2014 Network launch, and two at Vanderbilt Stadium in 2012 and 2016. Nobody else has done it more than once. From best I can tell, we and South Carolina are the ones willing to play along with the SEC’s desire to put a conference game in Week 1. But also, our other three games were Thursday night games; this one is on Saturday night.
Of course — the SEC Network won’t even be televising this. Thanks to Hurricane Dorian, ESPN had an open time slot in the evening, which resulted in our game being moved onto the Mothership. It’s a rather unexpected opportunity for a national spotlight.
Anyway, we’ve been writing l all summer. If you get bored with the other games, we recommend reading through it to get to know your Commodores. Have fun, and Anchor Down.