The Vanderbilt Commodores suffered a heartrending 39-35 defeat in Week 1 of the college football season to the Ole Miss Rebels on Thursday night, Aug. 29
The final quarter of the game was like an emotional roller coaster for the coaching staff, players and fan base.
After just one game, many have marked the Commodores off for the season. While they believe that Vanderbilt will still make a bowl game, hopes of another nine win season are over in their opinion.
However, the “anchor” dropped into Nashville over the past two seasons still holds plenty of weight and the Commodores are not going anywhere.
The Commodores are no longer the “Dore-mat” of the SEC and will rebound from this disappointing loss.
In my preseason selections, I had the Commodores going 9-4 with a win in the Gator Bowl. While their bowl outlook might have changed with the loss, I still think Vanderbilt will win nine games.
The defeat to Ole Miss did not change my opinion of this Commodores team. Perhaps most importantly, they have a coach in James Franklin who knows how to motivate his team and get them back on course after a setback.
Last season, Vanderbilt did not win its first game over a FBS school until Oct. 6. The Commodores started the season 1-3 with their lone win coming over FCS Presbyterian. After their first road win against the Missouri Tigers, the Commodores lost again, this time to the Florida Gators.
With the Commodores at 2-4, the critics were chanting, “Same old Vandy”
However, under Franklin, you can knock the Commodores down but you can't knock them out. Like their head coach, they are forever resilient.
Franklin kept his team focused and confident. The Commodores won seven straight games to finish the season, including a 38-24 win in the Music City Bowl over North Carolina State.
Can Vanderbilt still win nine games this season? A closer look at its remaining schedule has me believing it will.
The Commodores next host Austin Peay at Vanderbilt Stadium. The two schools are close in geographical proximity, but there is a vast difference in their talent level. The Commodores will dominate Austin Peay the same way the Tennessee Volunteers did this past week in a 45-0 win over the Governors.
The following week, the Commodores will travel to Williams-Brice Stadium to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. Vanderbilt will be an underdog, but don't count it out just yet. In all likelihood, the Commodores will begin preparation for the Gamecocks this week while South Carolina will be preparing for a slugfest with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Win or lose at Georgia, this is a trap game for South Carolina and the Commodores could pull off a major upset.
After South Carolina, the Commodores will have a three-game stretch where they will be favored in games against Massachusetts, UAB and Missouri. If they are able to win those three, they will be looking at either 5-1 or 4-2.
After the Missouri game, Vanderbilt will have a tough three-game stretch that includes Georgia, at Texas A&M and at Florida.
However, the Commodores have a bye week prior to facing Georgia and Florida looked very beatable in its opener. Even if they lose to South Carolina next week, the Commodores only need to win one of these three games to still be on track for nine wins.
Vanderbilt will complete the regular season with three more games that it will be favored in against Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forrest.
In other words, the Commodores' season is far from over. The Anchor remains strong and so does their resolve to win.
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