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Three Matchups to Watch: Vanderbilt at Georgia

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Three Matchups to Watch: Vanderbilt at Georgia

Photo by Brent Szklaruk

Photo by Brent Szklaruk

Photo by Brent Szklaruk

Photo by Brent Szklaruk

Ben Seltzer

After squeaking by a feisty Tennessee State team, #2 Georgia is probably not the opponent that the Vanderbilt Commodores were looking to rebound against. 

The Bulldogs (5-0) have been a force this season with an average margin of victory over of 30 points. Coming off a brutal National Championship game loss, Georgia has been on a mission to get back to the title game, and this time take the title home. 

Vanderbilt (3-2), meanwhile, is looking to reach their second bowl game in Derek Mason’s tenure as head coach. Going up against a 26.5 point point spread, here are three matchups to keep an eye on in what has the potential to be a very lopsided game. 

Vanderbilt’s Defensive Line vs. Georgia’s Offensive Line

This game is going to be quite the test for Vanderbilt’s defense. Over the last three games, Georgia’s offense has averaged 457 yards per game, while Vanderbilt’s defense has let up 429 yards per game.

Just two weeks ago, the Commodore defense yielded 534 yards to a South Carolina team that is far inferior to the Bulldog’s explosive attack. If the Commodores are going to slow Georgia’s roll, their defensive line will have to maintain solid penetration all game long, something that teams have struggled mightily doing against Georgia’s massive offensive line, which has an average weight of 324 pounds (per DawgNation).

This is a tough ask for Vanderbilt’s defensive linemen, who weigh in closer to 280 pounds. The Bulldogs certainly have the advantage here, and have made that known throughout this season, imposing their will in the run game, averaging over 250 yards per game on the ground. 

Vanderbilt Secondary vs. Quarterback Jake Fromm

While the rushing attack gets most of the attention, Jake Fromm has quietly had a stellar season as Georgia’s quarterback, ranking in the top 10 in both yards per attempt and completion percentage.

This does not bode well for a Vanderbilt secondary that has struggled in recent weeks. Over the last two games, the Commodore defense has allowed 530 passing yards, at a 69.5% completion against far inferior quarterbacks.

Fromm is the best quarterback that the Commodores have faced all season, and with the amount of time in the pocket that he will have, the Vanderbilt secondary will have to be spectacular in order to stop Fromm from getting whatever he wants.

Derek Mason vs. Ranked Opponents

Over his tenure at Vanderbilt, Coach Mason has a record of 2-14 against ranked opponents, with the two victories coming against 24th-ranked Tennessee in 2016 and 18th-ranked Kansas State last season.

After coming so close to taking down Notre Dame earlier this season, Mason is hungry for a win against top competition, and this would be just that. Coming off a National Championship game, this Georgia Bulldogs team is arguably as good as last season’s Alabama squad, who came into Vanderbilt Stadium and put a 59-0 whooping on the Commodores.

This week presents an equally difficult challenge, as Georgia’s talent is on a much higher level. The Commodores are looking for a bounce-back game after two lackluster performances in a row, so hopefully Mason’s record against ranked teams isn’t indicative of the performance his team will give this Saturday in Athens.

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