Vanderbilt's Schedule Has Good News and Bad News // SEC 2012: The New SEC

Vanderbilt has a rare October matchup with Florida, one the team will want to take full advantage of as a home game.

This is an overview. Predictions come later. Home games in CAPS.

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER

8/30: SOUTH CAROLINA

9/8: at Northwestern

9/15: PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE

9/22: at Georgia

9/29: BYE

Vandy has an awfully early bye this year, but it has a pretty tough four-game stretch ahead of it. Before Steve Spurrier turned his Gamecocks into a regular at the top of the East standings, he had a rough time with the Commodores. Now that VU is looking up, it might get that way again. This is an overlooked first Thursday game, if that's even possible. The game at Northwestern is intriguing not only as a rare SEC-Big Ten regular season game, but also because the Wildcats are a vision of the high end of what Vandy might one day become. Even this team gets a first month cupcake, and they'll need it before going on the road to the preseason division favorite. It's overall one of the toughest first months (relative to the team's level) you'll see from an SEC squad.

OCTOBER

10/6: at Missouri

10/13: FLORIDA

10/20: AUBURN

10/27: UMASS

Vandy begins this month by playing the new SEC team that also wears black and gold, and it makes a tough end to a back-to-back road set. After that comes a three game home stand, beginning with a rare October tussle with Florida. The Commodores have come close to knocking off the Gators since their last win in 1988, most notably in 2005, and this year might be an opportunity. It's in Nashville, the home team is on an upswing, and Will Muschamp's offense won't be fully operational yet. The last time VU played Auburn, they won a memorable game in '08 that ESPN College GameDay visited for. It might end up another instant classic. Anyway, getting AU as a West rotating opponent is a nice step down from facing Bama and Arkansas last year. Finally, Vandy gets to be one of the teams that welcome UMass to the I-A ranks, as the Minutemen are playing in the MAC this fall.

NOVEMBER

11/3: at Kentucky

11/10: at Ole Miss

11/17: TENNESSEE

11/24 at Wake Forest

I've got good news and bad news on this one. The bad news first: Vanderbilt finishes the year with three of four on the road. The good news is that two of the road games are against the expected SEC divisional basement dwellers, and the other is against a mediocre ACC team that they blew out last year. The best team of these is UT, and it will be the one actual home game. Vandy came very close to knocking off its in-state nemesis last year, and it will have a better shot at winning this big one than the game over Florida the previous month. With Tennessee still trying to find its post-2009 legs and James Franklin's revitalization of the VU program, this might be the best shot the Commodores have at taking down the Vols. The worst of the bad news would be facing a UT team that surprised to the upside, making last year the real best shot at beating Big Orange.

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