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Vanderbilt's Rough Schedule // SEC 2011

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

SEPTEMBER

9/3: ELON

9/10: UCONN

9/17: OLE MISS

9/24: at South Carolina

The opening month of 2011 is not the most forgiving set of games James Franklin could have asked for. Elon's a gimme, but the reigning Big East champs are next followed two weeks later by a road contest at the reigning SEC East champs. In between those games is a pivotal game against Ole Miss, who last year provided Vandy's sole SEC win of the last two seasons. It would be in Franklin's best interest to get the better of the Rebels, given the hell that awaits the team in October.

OCTOBER

10/1: BYE

10/8: at Alabama

10/15: GEORGIA

10/22: ARMY

10/29: ARKANSAS

Vanderbilt's bye week could scarcely have been better timed, as this month's schedule is brutal. First up is a trip to presumptive national title contender Alabama, a team the Commodores have defeated on the road just six times in 39 tries (and who Vandy last beat in Tuscaloosa in 1984). Then comes a tough home matchup against everyone's comeback team of the year in Georgia. Army provides a breather, though this is a better Army team than the one that beat Vandy in 2009. Finally, the Commodores face an Arkansas squad that lit them up to the tune of 49-14 last year. The schedule makers did Vanderbilt few favors this October.

NOVEMBER

11/5: at Florida

11/12: KENTUCKY

11/19: at Tennessee

11/26 at Wake Forest

You probably noticed like I did that there were a lot of home games in those first two months. That can only mean one thing: Vandy's schedule is backloaded with road games. Kentucky is the only team coming to Nashville in the season's final stanza, though UK is probably one of the two SEC teams Vandy has a decent shot at beating. First comes a trip to Gainesville to face the new look Gators, and following the 'Cats is Vandy's nemesis Tennessee. Closing out the season is a Wake Forest team that inexplicably dismissed the Commodores by 21 points last year. This year's team should not have similar issues with the Deacs.

OVERALL

It's a pretty brutal schedule with Alabama and Arkansas from the West; road games at South Carolina, Bama, Florida, and Tennessee; and two BCS conference teams in the non-conference. Only five games strike me as plausibly winnable, depending on what happens to the Randy Edsall-less UConn Huskies. Those games are also spread out, which means the Commodores don't have much time to catch a breather. You expect nothing less in the SEC, though,