The thing about breakout seasons is, you never see them coming. Sure, sometimes you take a chance on a team and label them "a dark horse." But no one, no one saw Vanderbilt getting bowl eligible this year.
Probably not even Vanderbilt. Some of the Vandy beat writers told me at SEC Media Days that the Commodores were waiting for next year to make their run. So much for that.
Vanderbilt beat Kentucky 31-24 Saturday, surviving a furious Kentucky rally at the end of the game to pick up their sixth win and a ticket to the postseason for the first time since 1982.
Playing no small part in all this was D.J. Moore, who caught two TDs -- adding some explosiveness to an offense that has long lacked it -- and grabbing two interceptions, including one that essentially iced the game.
Moore, probably the best player on the team on either side of the ball (and maybe both), helped key the Commodores to more success on offense than they've had in more than two months. The 31 points were the most by the Commodores since they beat Rice 38-21 on Sept. 13.
With Tennessee coming up next week, the Dores could get their seventh win. An upset of Wake Forest would make that eight, the most wins since that 1982 season, with a chance for a ninth win in a bowl. Vanderbilt hasn't won nine games since 1915.
But the most significant milestone has already been passed: Vanderbilt will play one more game after the regular season ends.
No one saw it coming, but almost everyone -- save Kentucky -- will celebrate. Vanderbilt has become one of the most lovable underdogs in college football over the last several years, never quitting and always seeming so close -- yet always ending up so far away.
The might be an underdog again in December, when they head to that long-awaited bowl game. I'll go ahead and guess that they'll take that.