Tomorrow is homecoming and, if you’re like me, you don’t know what to make of this Vanderbilt squad, even after reading what Doug Gillett and Senator Blutarsky had to allow. Paul Westerdawg, quoting Quinton McDawg, said it best:
"We are better. We should win." That about sums up my analysis as well. What else is there to say really.
If that analysis seems overly simplistic to you, I would point out that Paul Westerdawg is a simple man, in the best Lynyrd Skynyrd sense of that term. It was, after all, Paul who identified the five things that make everything better, which dovetails nicely with a theory propounded by my brother-in-law.
Nevertheless, there always are a few minutiae left to parse, so permit me to delve into a few data of which you might not be aware. As always, in so doing, I try to provide you not with a modicum of detail, or even with the right amount of insight, but, rather, with . . . Too Much Information!
- On their last trip to the Classic City in 2006, the Commodores beat the Bulldogs. Georgia has not lost back-to-back home games to Vanderbilt since 1922 . . . seven years before Sanford Stadium was built.
- Statistically, this game appears at first glance to be a bit of a mismatch. Georgia leads the league in total offense (430.3 yards per game), is tied for first place in the conference in yards per play (6.5), and has scored the S.E.C.’s second-highest number of touchdowns (22). The Commodores gain the fewest yards per game (250.2) and are tied for the second-fewest yards per play (4.4) among league teams . . . but the Music City Sailors boast the S.E.C.’s sixth-highest T.D. tally (17). Vanderbilt ranks tenth in the conference in total defense (318.7 yards per game allowed), as compared to the Bulldogs’ fourth-place standing (273.8 yards per game allowed) . . . but Georgia’s defense gives up exactly as many yards per play (4.6) as the Commodores’ does, and Vandy has allowed fewer touchdowns (10) than the Red and Black have (14).
- Last weekend, Georgia beat Tennessee. The Bulldogs have not followed up a win over the Big Orange with a loss in their next outing since 1973, and the Red and Black have never lost a home game in the contest immediately after a victory over the Volunteers.
- The ‘Dawgs should have ample opportunities to keep drives alive and the Red and Black must make the most of them. Georgia boasts the S.E.C.’s best third-down conversion percentage (48.1%) and second-best fourth-down conversion percentage (75.0%), and the Bulldogs will be going up against a Vanderbilt defense ranked tenth in the league in both third-down conversions allowed (39.1%) and fourth-down conversions allowed (55.6%).
- This year, for just the seventh time in school history and the fourth time in the Mark Richt era, Georgia beat South Carolina and Tennessee in the same season. In the six prior seasons in which the Classic City Canines accomplished that feat (1924, 1980, 1981, 2002, 2003, and 2005), the ‘Dawgs were 6-0 against the ‘Dores. For what it’s worth, Georgia claimed four S.E.C. championships, three division titles, and a national crown in those half-dozen seasons.
- In architecture, the word "Georgian" means "symmetrical." That being the case, the Bulldogs are Georgian in two senses of that term. The Red and Black offense has scored 99 of its 198 points in the first half and the other 99 in the second half, while the Classic City Canines’ defense has surrendered 55 of the 110 points it has allowed in the first two periods and 55 of them after halftime.
The Feel Good Stat of the Week: Earlier this autumn, of course, Georgia traveled to Tempe for a date with Arizona State, thereby making 2008 the fourteenth campaign since 1930 in which the Bulldogs faced a current Pac-10 team. In eleven of the previous thirteen such seasons (1931, 1960, 1971, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1987), the Red and Black also crossed paths with Vanderbilt.
In seasons in which the ‘Dawgs square off with a Pac-10 opponent, the Classic City Canines are 10-0-1 over the Music City Sailors, with a 4-0 mark over the Commies between the hedges.
The Bottom Line: I expect a repeat of the Tennessee game, in which Georgia wins relatively narrowly on the scoreboard a contest which was not quite as even on the field as it appeared on the ESPN scroll. As long as the Bulldogs protect the football better than they did last Saturday, they should be able to keep the Commodores in check, although no one who is familiar with Vandy under Bobby Johnson believes the visitors will fold their tents and surrender.
Georgia needs to jump on the Commies early in the contest. Vandy’s stingy defense has given up just 98 points this season, but 57 of those were surrendered in the first quarter. The Bulldogs need to demonstrate their dominance from the outset. Otherwise, it will be a longer afternoon than it has to be for the home team on homecoming.
My Prediction: Georgia 24, Vanderbilt 14.