James Franklin is trying to make history at Vanderbilt and do what no other coach in their unstoried tradition has done – take the Commodores to back-to-back bowl games. After playing the first 25 seasons without a bowl game (1982-08), the Dores made it back into postseason play last season for the second time in four years in the Liberty Bowl.
With 15 returning starters on this year’s club, and the SEC’s leading returning rusher in Zac Stacy, we knew it would be crucial to finish strong, as the tougher games were early on the schedule with the likes of South Carolina, Northwestern, Georgia and Florida. So, appropriately, we are entering week ten and Vanderbilt has notched four wins, only needing two more to put Franklin’s name in the history books.
Nov. 3: at Kentucky (1-8)
Nov. 10: at Ole Miss (5-3)
Nov. 17: Tennessee (3-5)
Nov. 24: at Wake Forest (4-4)
We circled two games before the season the Commodores had to win in order to become bowl eligible: Kentucky and Wake Forest. Now, with a bowl berth within grasp, those two look like wins just by the eye test and records alone. And it’s not out of the question that the Commodores win their last four either, as only the Rebels have a winning record. However, three of the last four are on the road, and it’s going to come down to the wire, likely having to beat the Demon Deacons on the road to get that coveted sixth win.
Franklin has done a great job building a different brand at Vanderbilt, and there is a different air about the program around Nashville than ever before. However, in order to change the culture of a program, he will need to recruit and sign better players. But he’s well on his way with this year’s class.
The Commodores have won two in a row and looking for their third in Lexington against Kentucky. This is the ‘gimmie’ of the remaining schedule, and the Commodores must take care of business.
Photo credit: Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE