Vanderbilt vs. Georgia: Looking back, pushing forward

October+19%2C+2013%3A+Patton+Robinette+%284%29+reads+the+defense+during+the+game+against+Georgia.+The+Commodores+defeated+the+Bulldogs+31-27%2C+marking+their+first+victory+against+Georgia+since+2006+and+second+since+1994.+The+win+gives+Vanderbilt+a+4-3+%281-3+SEC%29+record+heading+into+next+week%27s+matchup+with+Florida.+%28Bosley+Jarrett%29+
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Vanderbilt vs. Georgia: Looking back, pushing forward

October 19, 2013: Patton Robinette (4) reads the defense during the game against Georgia. The Commodores defeated the Bulldogs 31-27, marking their first victory against Georgia since 2006 and second since 1994. The win gives Vanderbilt a 4-3 (1-3 SEC) record heading into next week's matchup with Florida. (Bosley Jarrett)

October 19, 2013: Patton Robinette (4) reads the defense during the game against Georgia. The Commodores defeated the Bulldogs 31-27, marking their first victory against Georgia since 2006 and second since 1994. The win gives Vanderbilt a 4-3 (1-3 SEC) record heading into next week's matchup with Florida. (Bosley Jarrett)

October 19, 2013: Patton Robinette (4) reads the defense during the game against Georgia. The Commodores defeated the Bulldogs 31-27, marking their first victory against Georgia since 2006 and second since 1994. The win gives Vanderbilt a 4-3 (1-3 SEC) record heading into next week's matchup with Florida. (Bosley Jarrett)

October 19, 2013: Patton Robinette (4) reads the defense during the game against Georgia. The Commodores defeated the Bulldogs 31-27, marking their first victory against Georgia since 2006 and second since 1994. The win gives Vanderbilt a 4-3 (1-3 SEC) record heading into next week's matchup with Florida. (Bosley Jarrett)

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

In the prime of the James Franklin era of Vanderbilt football, one upset win on a blustery October afternoon in Nashville defined the 2013 season, and perhaps Franklin’s entire tenure at Vanderbilt.

The 2013 upset of No. 15 Georgia was the Commodores’ first win against a Top 25 opponent since they defeated Auburn in 2008, three seasons before Franklin took over coaching duties. Fast-forward two years, and the Bulldogs return to the scene of the crime against a much different Vanderbilt squad.

Since that game, Georgia has improved and started the 2015 season ranked ninth in the country. Vanderbilt changed coaches, suffered through a three-win season in 2014, and started 2015 with a brutal loss to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The possibility of an upset this weekend is far slimmer than in 2013, especially if Vanderbilt’s offense continues to sputter as it did against Western Kentucky.

However, back in 2013, it wasn’t the offense that defined the game for Vanderbilt. The special teams and defense won the day. Starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels went down with a knee injury early in the game, and the rest of the team rallied around him. The Bulldogs were up 27-14 late in the third quarter, when the Commodores marched back.

Torren McGaster recovered a muffed punt, leading to a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Then, in the fourth quarter, a Carey Spear field goal brought Vanderbilt to within 3 points. Late in the fourth quarter, Georgia punter Collin Barber saw his snap sail over his head, and he had no choice but to fall on the ball, giving the Commodores the ball back deep in Georgia territory. Running back Jerron Seymour would take it from there, as he punched in the winning touchdown with a little more than two minutes remaining in the game.

It wasn’t just the fact that they beat Georgia that made this win so special; it was the way they won. The late-game comeback breathed new life into a Commodore team that was 3-3 going into the game and had just lost a tough homecoming game to the Missouri Tigers, 51-28.

Lots of very prominent players played in that game as well, including current NFL players Andre Hal, Jordan Matthews and Jonathan Krause. This time around, the future NFL stars will likely be donning the red and white uniforms. Running back Nick Chubb is making a name for himself in Athens as a sophomore. He may join a long line of UGA running backs in the NFL, including most recently Knowshon Moreno and Todd Gurley.

Even without some of the hype from 2013, the SEC opener is always a big deal, as first chance to start making strides in the conference and a chance to show off for a truly national audience on CBS.

A Georgia blowout this game would be hardly surprising. But, if Vanderbilt can miraculously pull together an upset, a demoralized team and fanbase would re-energize and give head coach Derek Mason a signature win, like Franklin’s upset just two years ago.

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