The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

A Look Back: SEC Nation Returns to Campus for Third Time

Ziyi Liu
SEC Nation broadcast live from the Martha Ingram Commons September 12, 2015.

Vanderbilt is coming off a great weekend, and the Commodores look the best they ever have under Derek Mason. The defense played spectacularly, with two late takeaways and a fourth down stop sealing the win. Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz was limited to just 76 yards on 10-28 passing, and his inaccuracy and inability to hit receivers deep down the field was exploited by Mason and his defense.

Second half adjustments and a focus on stopping the run paid off, as the Wildcats got shut out in the second half. Throw in a couple of clutch plays by Kyle Shurmur, an overturned fumble, touchdown-negating flags called on Kansas State, and Vanderbilt earned its first 3-0 start under Derek Mason. But for the Commodores, there’s no time to rest.

An undefeated, top-ranked Alabama is coming to town, and SEC Nation will broadcast live from the Ingram Commons this Saturday morning. While the Commodores prepare for this huge week, let’s take a look back at Vanderbilt’s College GameDay and SEC Nation history.

Vanderbilt’s most recent College GameDay featured an SEC heavyweight matchup between #13 Auburn and #19 Vanderbilt. Tommy Tuberville’s Tigers came to town as the overwhelming favorite, but it was Vanderbilt that pulled off the upset. A back and forth stalemate that cumulated in a game winning interception by Myron Lewis ended a 13-game losing streak to the Tigers, and the Commodores were sitting pretty at 5-0. That red-hot start to the season went downhill quickly, as Vanderbilt ended in a 7-6 record, recovering with a bowl win over Boston College.The yearly rivalry game between Vanderbilt and Ole Miss attracted enough attraction in 2014 to earn the spotlight of SEC Nation. It was a poor performance by the Commodore defense, as the unit let up over 500 yards of offense and 41 points.

Vanderbilt signal-caller Stephen Rivers posted a QBR of 4.2, and the one field goal Tommy Openshaw kicked came from a fumble deep in Ole Miss territory. The Rebels built off their 41-3 victory and went on to upset Alabama, signaling the beginning of the Bo Wallace-Hugh Freeze era in Oxford.

Vanderbilt most recently hosted SEC Nation two years ago, on September 12, 2015, when tenth-ranked Georgia came to town. Derek Mason’s second season as a head coach didn’t see the start of conference play the way he had hoped.

Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary threw three interceptions, Ralph Webb was held to 68 yards on 25 carries, and the Bulldogs trounced the Commodores 31-14. It was a disappointing conference opener, but lessons learned from that loss helped Vanderbilt upset UGA last year 17-16.

This week’s contest with Alabama poses the toughest matchup yet.  Nick Saban is one of the best in the business, and the Crimson Tide rarely make mistakes. If Vanderbilt wants to win, the defense must maintain the exceptional level of play that has been on display in the first three weeks. The offense, especially Ralph Webb, needs to improve on last week’s subpar game. Finally, for this historic upset to come to fruition, Derek Mason will have to coach the game of life.

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Ziyi Liu, Author

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