Game Time: Saturday, October 6th, 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT
TV Schedule: SECN
Odds: Georgia (-27.5)
What a difference two years makes, huh?
On October 15, 2016, the Vanderbilt Commodores marched into Sanford Stadium and defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 17-16, holding Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to a mere 68 yards on the day. Kirby Smart, having already lost big to Ole Miss that year, put the idea in people’s minds that this was yet another former Saban assistant who was underachieving at a big time school.
Since that game, the Bulldogs under Smart are 21-4 with a conference championship and a national title game appearance. What a difference two years makes.
You will not confuse the Vandy team that won that afternoon with the team coming back to Athens this Saturday. While 3-2, they haven’t beaten a Power 5 team yet and it’s unlikely to occur this weekend. Last Saturday, Vanderbilt had to muster every bit of their 31 points and 553 yards to defeat crosstown FCS foe Tennessee State.
In that game, the ‘Dores defense allowed 373 yards and 27 points to the Tigers and it’s their defense that’s supposed to keep them in games.
Right now, the Vandy offense sits at 83rd in the FBS in scoring offense with 27.6 points per game and 63rd in total offense averaging 414 yards per game. To make things all the more difficult, the offense is 81st on 3rd downs, converting only 37.5% of the time.
Meanwhile, the Dawgs continue to “sim” through their schedule as they’ve yet to meet a proper challenger five weeks into the season. We thought maybe the South Carolina game in Columbia would be a slip-up, but 41-17 sure proved us wrong.
They don’t have the most prolific offense in the FBS, currently ranked 34th in total offense (470 yards per game), but they haven’t had to really use many of their best players deep into the second half to this point. Right now, they’re averaging 43 points per game, which is enough to pretty much beat anyone in the conference.
While Vandy’s offense has looked more than competent this season (QB Kyle Shurmur is currently third in the conference in passing yards and WR Kalijia Lipscomb is first in receiving yards) there always seem to be a ceiling to what it can do. They have really good players, but do they have the elite players that can make a defense like Georgia’s work for four quarters.
That 3rd quarter conversion percentage could be the final nail in the coffin for them as UGA’s defense is allowing only 30% of 3rd downs to be converted. A Kirby Smart/Mel Tucker defense has to be finessed if you’re going to expose weaknesses. Vanderbilt is not the type of offense that can expose a UGA team. They’re just not.
And with the balance the Bulldog offense is displaying, this one’s not going to be competitive for too long. Plus, UGA is scoring in all three phases which makes it all the more difficult. With the game being in Athens, this one should be a breeze.
Prediction: Georgia 49, Vanderbilt 13