Depending on where you live in the South, 2:30 or 3:30 p.m. on a Saturday in the fall means one thing. This music’s going to play ..
If you’re a Vanderbilt fan, you haven’t been a staple on the league’s marquee game.
Week 4’s matchup against Alabama will be Vandy’s sixth CBS game since 1998, when the series began. In 2014, the fine folks at AL.com put together a comprehensive list of regular season appearances by teams on the network’s SEC game of the week.
To put things in relative terms: Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, and Georgia have each played on CBS over 50 times, and that’s even with a cap of four games per year per team. Texas A&M and Missouri have each appeared on the network in the regular season more times than the ‘Dores, even though both joined the league in 2012.
While the history is short, let’s look at the times Vandy’s been on the SEC’s grandest weekly stage.
Nov. 6, 1999: Vanderbilt at Florida.
The Gators weren’t great, and they’d lose three straight to end the season, but at the time, Florida was a one-point loss to Alabama in overtime away from being undefeated. No. 5 Florida played host to Vandy and found itself in a dogfight. With just over a minute left, Vanderbilt took over from its own 16-yard line, trailing by a touchdown. The Commodores would drive to Florida’s red zone, but fail on a fourth down conversion and fall, 13-6.
Nov. 27, 1999: Vanderbilt at Tennessee.
Vanderbilt would be back just three weeks later, but this was a day to feature Tennessee. The Vols were defending national champions, and it was legendary quarterback Tee Martin’s senior day. The Commodores had not won in Knoxville since 1975, and were fighting for bowl eligibility. They wouldn’t get it in a 38-10 drubbing.
Nov. 24, 2001: Vanderbilt at Tennessee.
Tennessee receiver Donte Stallworth broke the game open in the second quarter with a punt return for a TD. The Vols rolled, 38-0, and had their first shutout since 1998. Tennessee would notch season highs for sacks and interceptions. The Commodores would finish 2-9.
Oct. 19, 2013: Georgia at Vanderbilt.
After 12 years off the network, not only were the ‘Dores back on CBS, they were hosting. But they weren’t doing it at 3:30 ET. Instead, the game was played at noon ET, as one of CBS’ two contractually obligated double-header Saturdays.
This was not your parents’ Vanderbilt, however. They were in the midst of a second consecutive 9-4 season in James Franklin’s third year.
Vandy had sputtered to that point and was 3-3, winless inside the SEC. Jerron Seymour’s late go-ahead touchdown was the difference, and the Commodores won 31-27.
It was Vanderbilt’s first win over a ranked opponent since 2008 and a monkey off the back for Franklin, who was without a signature victory. After the game, Franklin preached business as usual.
But while he fought back tears at his postgame press conference, you could tell it was a huge win.
Sept. 12, 2015: Georgia at Vanderbilt.
The most recent time Vanderbilt hosted the SEC on CBS, things didn’t go so well. The Dawgs put it on Vandy, 31-14.
Saturday will be unlike any challenge the ‘Dores have faced recently.
For starters, Alabama and Vanderbilt rarely play these days. They’ve only met twice in the Nick Saban era. But the ‘Dores are riding high after stifling Kansas State last week.
In an increasingly confusing SEC East (3-0 Kentucky! Bad Florida offense! Bad Tennessee defense!), the Commodores are as much a favorite for the division as just about anyone else is, excluding Missouri. After quietly finishing 6-7 last season, Vandy is 3-0 and now noticeably good again, especially on defense. Entering Saturday night, K-State averaged 8.36 yards per play against FCS Central Arkansas and Charlotte. Vandy’s defense almost cut that in half (4.4).
After the win, Vandy fans chanted “We want Bama.” Well, y’all got ‘em. And ya got ‘em on CBS, too.
Uncle Verne misses your college town, but won’t miss flying to it
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