Vanderbilt-Georgia matchup has deep roots, recent bad blood


Bosley Jarrett

October 19, 2013: Austyn Carta-Samuels (6) reads the defense during the game against Georgia. Photo by Bosley Jarrett.

Romy Pein

As homecoming approaches for the Commodores, longtime frowns are slowly being turned upside-down. Perhaps a comeback is underway?

Despite coming off recent losses, Vanderbilt has been putting up a good fight this season compared to previous years, having won three of the first five games they’ve played so far, including a close win against Kansas State, who was ranked 18th at the time. The Commodores were undefeated to start the season for the first tine since 2011 as well, so this could be a sign for a successful season.

Vanderbilt students have a reason to be hopeful about the upcoming match. After all, last season the Commodores 17-16 victory against Georgia was unexpected, but a huge morale booster for the team.

With Georgia kicking field goal after field goal and only 10 minutes remaining, it wasn’t looking good, until an extended 75-yard drive followed by a touchdown from Khari Blasingame tilted the scales for Vanderbilt. The most important stat line, however, was the 19 tackles made by linebacker Zach Cunnigham, including a lunging tackle on 4th-and-1 in the last minute of the game. It was a victory that certainly illuminated Derek Mason’s coaching and gave the Commodores some fire under them for the rest of the 2016 season.

Two wins against Georgia in the past four years might inspire some confidence as well. Vanderbilt also beat Georgia 31-27 as recently as 2013 under head coach James Franklin. Despite losing quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels in the second quarter, the Commodores were able to score another 17 points in the fourth quarter, thanks to some successful drives and a 40-yard field goal kick from Carey Spear.

Vanderbilt and Georgia have a long history of competition, stretching all the way back to 1893. Since then, Vanderbilt has won a total of 20 times against the Bulldogs. The Commoores were able to attain a three-year winning streak from 1956-58, and have not beaten the Bulldogs in consecutive years since.

Then again, why not start it up again this year?

Georgia isn’t looking too shabby either, coming in undefeated this season with a recent 41-point shut out against Tennessee. This is good news for new head coach Kirby Smart, who is on his second season at Georgia after serving as defense coordinator for Vandy’s other favorite opponent this season, Alabama.

Last year, Georgia tied for second in the SEC East division, and are currently ranked as the fifth-best team in the country.  Smart seems to be eager to keep that title and has been focusing on pro-style offense with Nick Chubb as a key player and pass rush on defense.

Georgia is going to be a tough team to beat, but perhaps with the Commodore crowd behind them, an upset could be brewing.