Saturday Tailgate: LSU

The Vanderbilt Commodores sit at 0-2 on the season. The last time Vanderbilt started 0-2, it was 2015, and the Commodores drilled Austin Peay for their first win of the season. (Like this year, the two losses to open 2015 came against Georgia and a team coached by Jeff Brohm.) Vanderbilt also opened the season 0-2 in 2014, and we all remember what happened that season.

Sounding ominous yet? Well, in 2012, Vanderbilt opened the season 0-2 and then, after a 58-0 win over Presbyterian, got drilled 48-3 by Georgia. They’d win 8 of 9 to finish the season, though, ending the year with a 9-4 record.

On the other hand, all three of those teams got a win in their third game. So, too, did Robbie Caldwell’s 2010 team, which opened with losses to Northwestern and LSU before hastening the end of the Houston Nutt era at Ole Miss for the first of the SEC Media Days GOAT’s two career wins as a head coach. To find a Vanderbilt team that started the year 0-3, you have to go all the way back to 2006, Bobby Johnson’s first post-Jay Cutler team. That team started the season by playing Michigan, Alabama, and Arkansas, and predictably lost all of them. Meanwhile, here’s a list of some other Vanderbilt teams that started the year 0-3 and how they finished the season…

  • 2004: 2-9
  • 2000: 3-8
  • 1998 (started 0-6): 2-9
  • 1996 (started 0-4): 2-9
  • 1995 (started 0-7): 2-9
  • 1986: 1-10
  • 1980 (started 0-6): 2-9
  • 1979 (started 0-7): 1-10
  • 1969: 4-6
  • 1964: 3-6-1
  • 1963 (started 0-6): 1-7-2
  • 1962 (started 0-8): 1-9
  • 1960 (started 0-4): 3-7

I mean, you’re starting to get the picture. I only went back to 1960, but no Vanderbilt team has started the season with three straight losses and finished with a winning record (granted, not many Vanderbilt teams since 1960 have finished with a winning record, period.) Only two of them even won four games, and only five of them won three. Now, I’ll grant that most of these were bad teams, and for a few of them the losing didn’t stop at 0-3.

Then again, the 2006 team — which started the season 0-3 against a brutal schedule, and while trying to replace the school’s all-time leading passer (a.k.a. exactly like this year’s team) was one of the two that finished with four wins. Of course, we’re also well past the point that “at least we didn’t go 2-10!” is viewed as progress. At least to my untrained eye, the first two games of this season were nowhere near as brutal as the first two games of 2014 or even 2015. At some point, this team is going to get in the win column.

But they probably won’t this week…

AoG Week in Review

Today’s opponent: the LSU Tigers. LSU suddenly has an excellent offense to go with its usual stifling defense, and the result is a team that’s won its three games this season by a total score of 165 to 55. 38 of those 55 points were scored by Texas, a team that is not at all comparable to Vanderbilt. Derek Mason showed the proper amount of respect for LSU in his weekly press conference.

The depth chart saw some minor changes this week; Devin Cochran might be back on Saturday, which would be a huge boost for an offensive line that’s struggled to create running lanes for Ke’Shawn Vaughn or to give Riley Neal the time needed to find his receivers. With or without Cochran, though, Vanderbilt needs to find something that works on the offensive side of the ball. While the offense is averaging 5.2 yards per play, that’s not enough to keep up with a defense that’s suddenly allowing 7.8 yards per play.

Also, we all picked the SEC games this week, and I myself doled out the usual bad gambling advice. Shawn drank local beers from Baton Rouge and, uh, all of us picked Vanderbilt to lose. Oh, yeah, and we answered reader questions in the Mailbag.

Around the League

Well, we couldn’t make fun of Tennessee this week, at least not for losing a football game. The Vols finally got in the win column with a 45-0 win over Chattanooga last Saturday, one of the results we covered in Around the League.

There’s Other Football

Bad Gambling Advice has you covered for all the other SEC games. The bad news is that three of those are also at 11 AM. If you’re curious about the reason for this, CBS exercised its option for a doubleheader this week so that it could televise Georgia-Notre Dame at night, and because the CBS contract with the SEC stipulates that no SEC game can be nationally in the same time slot (the SEC Network doesn’t count.) That means four games crammed into the 11 AM slot, as well as the weirdness of having a conference game on the SEC Network alternate channel.

(By the way, the reason why this hasn’t really come up before is because usually the game CBS picks up to run at night is LSU-Alabama. That game typically falls deep into conference play and hits a lighter spot in the schedule.)

The biggest game of the day outside the SEC (Michigan-Wisconsin) also falls at 11 AM. In the afternoon time slot, if you’re not watching one of the three SEC games (Auburn-Texas A&M, Kentucky-Mississippi State, and Missouri-South Carolina), watch Washington at BYU (2:30 PM, ABC/ESPN2) — and also keep an eye on SMU-TCU (2:30 PM, FS1.) The evening timeslot doesn’t have a ton to offer outside of Georgia-Notre Dame; other than that, you’re looking at Oregon-Stanford (6:00 PM, ESPN) or maybe Oklahoma State-Texas (6:30 PM, ABC.) The nightcap has UCLA-Washington State (9:30 PM, ESPN) and a sneaky-interesting Utah State-San Diego State game (9:30 PM, CBS Sports Network.)

And for Parlagi, NAIA Graceland (hell yeah there’s a college called Graceland) plays at Central Methodist at 11 AM on ESPN3.

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Author:

Tom Stephenson