Yesterday, MaconDawg did his part by restoring Cocktail Thursday to its proper place on the calendar. Today, I’m doing my part. "Too Little Information"? What was up with that? Yeah, that was totally weak. If I don’t do better this week, SB Nation should fire me and replace me with Sylvester Croom.
Here’s the deal, then: I’m not bringing you a little bit of information; I’m not bringing you just the right amount of information; I’m bringing you Too Much Information. Here goes:
This is the week that the resistible force meets the movable object. The Georgia Bulldogs rank last in the SEC in scoring defense, surrendering 30.7 points per game. The Vanderbilt Commodores rank last in the SEC in scoring offense, tallying 18.8 points per game. Something’s got to give . . . actually, the Vandy O and the Georgia D both give on a regular basis. Something’s got to do the opposite of give. Something’s got to stand up, maybe? Yeah, we’ll go with that.
Fortunately, the one thing the ‘Dawgs appear even passably good at is stopping the run, as the Red and Black allow only 128.2 rushing yards per game, good for fourth in the conference. Since the ‘Dores rank fifth in the league in rushing offense (189.2 yards per game on the ground), Georgia may actually have a chance to slow down the Commies, who have the SEC’s worst aerial attack (146.7 passing yards per game and a touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio of two to six). Unfortunately, the Classic City Canines’ rush defense is a bit of a chimera, as the Bulldogs give up 3.7 yards per carry (tied for the worst among the league’s top eight rush defenses) and have surrendered five rushing touchdowns (second-worst among the conference’s top seven rush defenses). Despite ranking eleventh in the SEC against the run (170.2 rushing yards per game allowed), Vanderbilt has given up the same number of rushing touchdowns as Georgia (5) and is only marginally worse in yards per carry allowed (3.9). That’s bending but not breaking.
A win tomorrow would give the Bulldogs their 50th series triumph over the Commodores. Georgia holds a commanding lead in the all-time standings against Vandy, especially since 1959, and the Red and Black are 22-7-1 in Vanderbilt Stadium. However, the series is snarled at 8-8-2 in games decided by seven or fewer points, and the ‘Dawgs have not beaten the ‘Dores by more than ten points since 2005.
One promising indicator that offers hope for the reversal of that trend is the fact that Georgia defeated a Pac-10 team between the hedges this year. The Bulldogs have beaten opponents from the West Coast BCS conference in Sanford Stadium in seven previous seasons (1971, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1983, and 1987), and, in those seven seasons, the Red and Black went 7-0 against the Commodores. That ledger includes a 5-0 mark against the Music City Sailors in Nashville, four games in which the ‘Dawgs scored 38 or more points on the Vandy defense, and five contests in which Georgia prevailed by eleven or more points.
Drew Butler should have a good day tomorrow. Georgia leads the SEC in punting, while Vanderbilt ranks eleventh in the league in punt returns.
If nothing else, the Bulldogs should have the Commodores exactly where they want them if Vandy makes it inside the Georgia 20 yard line. The ‘Dores have the worst red zone offense in the conference, coming away with points only 16 times in 24 trips into the shadow of the other team’s goal posts. Seven of those 16 scores were field goals and only one of the nine touchdowns came through the air. Sadly, though, the Red and Black have had fewer chances inside the 20 (15), fewer red zone scores (14), and fewer red zone touchdowns (7).
As disheartening as last week’s loss to the Tennessee Volunteers was, it didn’t hurt the Bulldogs’ chances of winning in Nashville. Georgia is 13-2 (.867) against Vanderbilt in years in which the ‘Dawgs lost to the Vols and 10-4 (.714) against the Commies in seasons in which the Red and Black defeated the Big Orange.
For the seventh time in school history, Georgia goes into the Vanderbilt game sporting exactly three losses in its ledger. The previous six such occasions were in 1970, 1979, 1989, 1990, 1995, and 1996. (Don’t think about the fact that the ‘Dawgs finished 5-5, 6-5, 6-6, 4-7, 6-6, and 5-6 in that sextet of seasons, or this will cease to be the feel good stat of the week . . . or, perhaps, become the feel good stat of the weak.)
In those six seasons, Georgia went 6-0 over Vanderbilt and scored more than 30 points against the ‘Dores four times.
Vanderbilt often has been a tougher out than the Commodores generally have been given credit for being, and the Georgia squad that performed so poorly in Knoxville last weekend cannot take any conference road game for granted. Three SEC quarterbacks have had career days against the Bulldog secondary so far this season, so I certainly cannot assume that any signal caller in the league lacks the ability to shred the Red and Black D.
That said, Ryan Mallett, Stephen Garcia, and Jonathan Crompton all rank in the top half of the SEC in passing yards per game, while the Commodore QB---honestly, you’re not going to make me look up his name, are you?---ranks in the bottom two in the conference in passing yards per game, total offense, and pass efficiency rating. No Commodore ranks in the top ten in the league in catches per contest or in receiving yards per outing. If ever there was an SEC passing game that could make the Georgia secondary look good, this is it.
That doesn’t mean the ‘Dawgs won’t need the same sort of last-second heroics they needed on their last trip to Nashville two years ago, of course, but, at this point, all that matters is the W. I’d like to think the Bulldogs will win by a lot, but I’ll be content with just winning at all.
My Prediction: Georgia 27, Vanderbilt 17.