Let’s start off by acknowledging that Vanderbilt will improve this year, if for no other reason that things can’t get much worse. The record might actually be better -- FCS’ Elon joins the schedule, giving the Dores the gimme win they didn’t have last year. But some progress will not show up in the record book but on the scoreboard, where blowouts become respectable losses and some might even end up close.
That’s about as good as James Franklin’s first season in Nashville is probably going to get. By the time the seven-quarterback carousel stops spinning, we should have a better idea of what the Commodores can and can’t do on offense. But given the track record of Vanderbilt and the fact that Franklin doesn’t even have a full recruiting class, the answer is "probably not that much more than last year." Still, even a mild improvement could put Vanderbilt closer to victory in some games the Dores should lose. And it should make them less likely to lose games they should win.
The likelihood of a Florida upset is based on the fact that there aren’t a ton of plausible and truly earth-shattering upset possibilities on the schedule -- a defeat of Army wouldn't be that surprising, after all -- and the Gators have arguably the toughest schedule surrounding the 'Dores, with the neutral-site game against Georgia before and the trip to South Carolina after. That and the fact that it’s a transition year for the Gators make an upset possible, but not incredibly likely by any stretch of the imagination. So Florida fans, please hold off on the hate mail.
Place: Last in the SEC East
Record: 3-9, 1-7 SEC
Could be: 1-11 to 5-7
Best chance for an upset: at FLORIDA
9.3.11 | ELON | WIN
9.10.11 | CONNECTICUT | PROBABLE LOSS
9.17.11 | OLE MISS | POSSIBLE WIN
9.24.11 | at SOUTH CAROLINA | LIKELY LOSS
10.8.11 | at ALABAMA | LIKELY LOSS
10.15.11 | GEORGIA | LIKELY LOSS
10.22.11 | ARMY | PROBABLE LOSS
10.29.11 | ARKANSAS | LIKELY LOSS
11.5.11 | at FLORIDA | LIKELY LOSS
11.12.11 | KENTUCKY | POSSIBLE LOSS
11.19.11 | at TENNESSEE | PROBABLE LOSS
11.26.11 | at WAKE FOREST | PROBABLE WIN