SEC slates: Vanderbilt

SEC slates: Vanderbilt

Those blasted Vanderbilt Commodores always have to be different. First, they insist on maintaining higher academic standards. Then they insist on scheduling non-conference opponents with a pulse.

No wonder they never contend for the SEC title ...

The 2009 Commodores will visit a Rice team coming off a 10-3 season last fall and host a Georgia Tech team coming off a 9-4 record last fall. Even counting Army (3-9) and Western Carolina (3-9) of the Football Championship Subdivision, Vandy's four non-league foes went a combined 25-25 last season. That may not sound like much but it's murderer's row compared to what some of the Dores' SEC brethren are facing this fall.

Consider:

- Tennessee's non-conference foes for 2009 went a combined 16-33 in '08.

- LSU's non-conference foes for '09 also went 16-33 in '08.

- Alabama's non-SEC opponents went 17-32 last year, with one of those being a Football Championship Subdivision team.

- Kentucky's three Football Bowl Subdivision foes combined to go 11-25 last season; the Cats also face an FCS team this fall.

- Ole Miss is facing two foes that went a combined 10-15 last fall and TWO sacrificial lambs from the Football Championship Subdivision.

Although Vandy's schedule features two quality programs in Rice and Georgia Tech, the Commodores might not be as high-minded as they appear. Prior to last season's success, Rice had been a long-suffering cream puff. In fact, the Owls' victory in the Texas Bowl last winter was their first postseason win since 1954. Coincidentally, the Commodores' victory in the Music City Bowl last winter was their first postseason win since 1955. So, maybe this year's meeting was a match made in heaven.

Vanderbilt's SEC schedule, like its non-conference schedule, is more difficult than most. The Dores must face the top two teams from the West – Ole Miss and LSU – along with Mississippi State. Meanwhile, Vandy's four SEC road games are downright daunting – LSU, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee.

The SEC home slate looks a little more accommodating. The Commodores are unlikely to beat Ole Miss (Sept. 19) or Georgia (Oct. 17) but they likely will be favored against Mississippi State (Oct. 3) and Kentucky (Nov. 14).

Bottom line: Bobby Johnson is a fine coach but his Dores project to lose two of their four non-conference games. Thus, it's difficult to imagine them going better than 5-7 this fall.

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