Sunday, September 21, 2008

2008 Vanderbilt = 2007 Mississippi State?

Hats off to Bobby Johnson and Vanderbilt making their first visit to the Top 25 in 24 years. The Commodores have run out to a 4-0 start and have a handful of winnable games left on their schedule. Barring a collapse, they'll be bowling for the first time since the Reagan administration.

Looking at how they're winning though, it's hard not to be reminded of Mississippi State last year. They're getting little production from their offense but riding special teams play and an opportunistic defense to one improbable win after another.

Take last night for an example. In their conference road opener in Oxford, the 'Dores returned an INT for a TD, forced 5 other turnovers, and walked out with a 23-17 win despite mustering only 202 yards of total offense. Last year in their conference road opener, MSU went to Auburn, completed just 5 passes, amassed just 213 total yards but returned an INT for a TD, forced 4 other TOs, and walked out with a 19-14 win.

This 'Dores team is built the same way. They're off to a better start than MSU was last year - LSU buried MSU on ESPN to open the season - and the Bulldogs never cracked the Top 25 like Vandy has. What remains to be seen is if they can duplicate the season-long success. Looking down the line, only the Florida and Georgia games seem impossible.

With East Carolina losing yesterday, Vandy has assumed the role of the Nation's Darling and Bobby Johnson is the unquestioned Coach of the Year. What a story it will be if the 'Dores can keep it up.


Anonymous said...

Good post and I pretty much agree with you. Our stats have looked unimpressive so far, but you can buck the yardage numbers for a while as Miss State did last year.

Some of it's dumb luck and some of it's great defense and special teams, but I just hope it carries on for us for another 2-3 wins or more.

The Dead Guy said...

Thanks Philip - bottom line is that VU is 4-0 and ranked in both polls. Only a hand few of teams in the entire country that can say that.

Bobby Johnson is without a doubt the National Coach of the Year thus far. Not even a close second at this point.

Looking at the remaining schedule, UGA and UF are probably filed in the "not gonna happen" drawer, and Wake Forest is probably too solid a team to turn the ball over enough for Vandy to win, but all the other ones are certainly possible. Auburn has put the ball on the ground enough that they must be concerned about an opportunistic D like the Commodores'.