We have, as the song says, a long way to go and a short time to get there, so, having already dispensed with the passing game and the running game, let's get right back to business, not with a smidgen of information, nor with a reasonable amount of information, but with . . . Too Much Information.
The Kicking Game
Special teams are a mixed bag for both squads. Vandy is fourth in the Southeastern Conference in kickoff returns (24.3 yards per return) but last in the league in punting (30.6 net yards per punt); Georgia is 11th in the S.E.C. in kickoff returns (19.8 yards per return) but stands atop the conference in punting (38.8 net yards per punt).
Brandon Coutu has been quite consistent this season. He has been a perfect seven for seven on field goal tries of up to 46 yards, he has missed both field goal tries of 48 yards or longer, and he has made one 47-yarder and missed another.
No three-point try against Georgia has been anything other than successful, but Vanderbilt's Bryant Hahnfeldt has missed two of his last five field goal attempts, failing to connect on tries of 23 and 36 yards.
Odds and Ends
These two teams are mirror images of one another in many respects. Consider the following:
- Georgia ranks fifth in the S.E.C. in scoring defense, conceding 20.2 points per game. Vanderbilt ranks fourth in the league in that same category, surrendering 20.0 points per game.
- The Bulldogs have allowed 13 touchdowns in six games. The Commodores have allowed 12 touchdowns in five games.
- Both teams gave up 35 points in conference road losses last Saturday.
- Georgia's defense allows 4.9 yards per play. Vanderbilt's defense gives up 4.9 yards per snap.
- The Bulldogs' opponents have converted three of their eight fourth-down attempts against the 'Dawgs. The Commodores' opponents have converted three of their eight fourth-down attempts against the 'Dores.
Tennessee averages 34.6 points per game; round it up to the nearest whole number and you have exactly the number of points Georgia surrendered in Knoxville. Alabama averages 30.7 points per game; the Bulldogs held the Crimson Tide to 23 and the Red Elephants only earned that many because they took the Classic City Canines to overtime.
South Carolina averages 29.0 points per game; the 'Dawgs held the Palmetto State Poultry to 16. Ole Miss averages 21.7 points per game; the Red and Black limited the Rebels to 17.
For all the flaws in the Georgia D, the Bulldogs have kept three of their four S.E.C. opponents below their scoring averages and have not allowed any conference opponent to exceed its regular weekly tally by as much as a full point.
That is good news for the 'Dawgs, who will be facing a Vanderbilt offense ranked tenth in the conference in both scoring and third-down conversions and 11th in the league in both red zone offense and total offense.
The Commies put up 23.8 points per game and they have scored the fewest total touchdowns (14) and the fewest offensive touchdowns (13) in the S.E.C. If Georgia doesn't do anything foolish---and the three first downs the Bulldogs have spotted the opposition on penalties are the fewest conceded by any team in the league---the Red and Black may give up a number of yards, but they shouldn't surrender many points.
The Bottom Line
I generally agree with Michael's cogent point about analysis that relies too heavily on intangibles, so I'm not going to focus on such considerations as pride or revenge or redemption or the like. Instead, I am going to concentrate on straightforward historical facts:
Mark Richt has never lost two road games in a single season.
Georgia has not lost consecutive series meetings with the Commodores since the 1957 and 1958 seasons . . . Fran Tarkenton's freshman and sophomore years.
Through that 1958 campaign, the 'Dawgs had posted a dismal 2-9-1 record against the Commies in the Music City. Since 1959, however, the Classic City Canines have gone 19-2-1 against Vanderbilt in Nashville.
Since their last loss at Vanderbilt in 1991, the Red and Black have won seven straight series meetings in Nashville by margins of 38, 11, 21, 10, 16, 19, and 17 points, respectively.
In five games this season, the Commies have scored 19.5 points per game against Division I-A opponents. In six games this season, the Bulldogs have allowed 21.0 points per game to Division I-A opponents.
In six games this season, the Red and Black have scored 24.3 points per game against Southeastern Conference competition. In five games this season, the Music City Sailors have allowed 25.3 points per game to Southeastern Conference competition.
My Prediction: Georgia 24, Vanderbilt 20.