Vanderbilt 24, South Carolina 20
With Vanderbilt, you either vote with your heart or you vote with history.
History says Vanderbilt will play well enough to win. But they'll lose. Somehow, they always find a way. In fact, no team I have ever seen is as creative at losing as Vanderbilt. One week, it may be a flubbed extra point or field goal try. On another Saturday, it may be a bungled trick play that was all set up to succeed. Or maybe they'll take a last-minute lead only to blow it on a missed pass coverage. It will be close enough to claim a moral victory, but it will be an L that will set a tone for more close L's to follow.
The heart says Vanderbilt will defy history and eke out a W. This time, however, there are reasons for the head to agree. This is an older, wiser, stronger Commodore team, with 21 of 22 starters returned from last season. They'll have one of the league's most experienced quarterbacks in Jay Cutler. Coach Bobby Johnson has convinced them they can win. Even a majority among the media seem convinced they can win five games, and some, going where angels fear to tread, venture six.
Instead of an Alabama, Vandy gets to host a South Carolina team that figures to be no better than fourth in the SEC East under even the rosiest scenario. Their coach, Lou Holtzwhose teams historically decline the longer he stays at a schoolenters the season already under pressure.
Vandy begins with four eminently winnable games that also are eminently losable. Lose this one, and the calculus for the first winning season in 22 years becomes very difficult.
Tennessee 37, UNLV 10
LSU 33, Oregon State 14
Florida 41, MTSU 6
Alabama 34, Utah State 17
Arkansas 38, New Mexico State 10
Mississippi State 26, Tulane 14
Ole Miss 19, Memphis 16
Georgia 45, Georgia Southern 10
Louisville 24, Kentucky 17