The Vanderbilt Commodores opened the season by losing to the FCS ETSU Buccaneers by a 23-3 score. The commentariat immediately predicted doom for the season, but then, Vanderbilt wiped the vomit off themselves and went out and beat Colorado State 24-21 last week, prevailing on Joseph Bulovas’ 38-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the game.
Will Vanderbilt make it two in a row? This week’s opponent is the Stanford Cardinal. Vanderbilt has never faced Stanford before, though an interesting, random tidbit I learned while diving down Wikipedia rabbit holes yesterday is that Vanderbilt would have played Stanford in the 1982 Hall of Fame Classic had this not happened:
(VandyImport is here to lob bombs and keep his wife happy.)
Anyway, do our writers think Vanderbilt can make it two in a row?
Per Bill Connelly, Vanderbilt had a 19% postgame win expectancy against Colorado State. That was roughly my impression after I did the Statistical last week: Colorado State probably should have won that game, but shot itself in the foot enough times to give Vanderbilt an opening, which the Commodores happily took advantage of.
What we can take away from that is that the remaining opponents on the schedule, aside from UConn, are probably better teams than Vanderbilt and will need to make mistakes for Vanderbilt to have a chance. And that’s not really Stanford. Vanderbilt might have a shot at beating somebody like South Carolina or Tennessee down the road if either of those teams decide to give the game away, but I don’t think Stanford is really that kind of team.
The Pick: Stanford 30, Vanderbilt 14
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: I always hate calling upsets where I think the wrong team is favored, but MEMPHIS (+3) over Mississippi State technically would qualify as an upset.
Andrew VU ‘04
Remember back before we played our game against ETSU, and many of our opponents were struggling and/or losing, and we then got all optimistic for a hot minute? Well, one of those bore fruit (Colorado State losing to South Dakota State), and it’s looking like UCONN may be an all time terrible team, but Stansbury took their opening week 24-7 loss to Kansas State personally, and promptly got USC’s coach fired with a 42-28 rout of the Trojans.
Let’s just say I’m less optimistic now.
Simply put, we don’t have the horses to run with Stansbury right now. I think we should be able to put a few points up on that defense, but we’re likely not able to slow down their offense. Still, I am predicting a “Hey, we did better than USC” moral victory which causes our fanbase tp overreact with optimism.
The Pick: Leland Stansbury Junior College 27 - Vanderbilt University 13
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: MEMPHIS is straight up beating Clanga. They have more talent, speed, and their coach is not a clearly insane person.
I would feel some optimism if I was promised an offensive game plan and playcalling similar to the 2nd half against Colorado State along with the defensive execution. Basically, if we play like the 2nd half (except slightly overly conservative late lead time), this game could be close.
Stanford is probably not nearly as good as their dismantling of USC indicated. They are certainly not as bad as being comfortably beaten by Kansas State would say, either. The Cardinal will be a stout challenge, but I think Vegas is going to take a lot of money from those betting on Stanford covering, especially with the line between Stanford at -11 and -12.5.
The Pick: Stanford 27, Vanderbilt 20
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: After being negative abour Auburn to start the season, I am taking Vandy's most recent head coach to beat his predecessor in Happy Valley. Franklin is already shopping for homes in SoCal.
I think Tom pretty much nailed it and that’s what I thought after doing the offensive preview. Stanford doesn’t really beat themselves. I admittedly don’t know much about K-State, but USC is a talented team and they throttled them. They have committed less than 100 yards in penalties in their first two games. I don’t know why they decided to two QB the first game, but they’ve got McKee probably solidified at the position going forward. Maybe the defense surprises me (they kind of already have), but I think this one is a two TD loss.
The Pick: Stanford 34, Vanderbilt 20.
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: I’m going to take Auburn over Penn State in the battle of former Vandy coaches. It’s about the only time I’d ever choose Derek Mason to beat James Franklin in anything though.
Repeat after me: “I will not get any unnecessary confidence from the 3-point win against CSU.” Now that we’re past the emotional high that last week’s win brought us, it’s time to look ahead to the visiting “Vanderbilt of the West.” Stanford’s David Shaw has already thrown the first punch of the contest in his comments earlier this week about how Stanford’s academic superiority over its counterparts has contributed to greater success throughout the programs’ history.
For a coach that is used to playing in Rose Bowls and who has ranked foes the next two weeks following the Vandy game, look for Shaw’s Cardinal to overlook Vandy to a degree in Saturday’s game. Coach Lea’s team will get out to an early lead, but it unfortunately won’t be enough to overcome the experience/talent gap on the field.
The Pick: Stanford 27, Vanderbilt 17
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Fine, I’ll take the bait. The rumor mill swirling around James Franklin and USC demonstrating mutual interest will be enough of a distraction for Auburn to win in Happy Valley. Derek Mason leaves a fruit basket on Franklin’s doorstep on his way out, thanking him for leaving the vacancy at Vandy in 2014 that lead to 7 years of employment.