The #15 Georgia Bulldogs are looking for a bounce-back game this week following the team’s 41-26 defeat at the hands of the Missouri Tigers, and may very well be in luck, as the Bulldogs travel to Nashville to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores at 12:00 p.m. in a game that will be televised by CBS.
The Commodores are currently 3-3 on the season and will be looking to upset Georgia following their bye week. Although Vanderbilt’s last game was a tough 51-28 loss to the Missouri Tigers, the Dores will undoubtedly show up ready to play and motivated to make up for last year’s 48-3 loss at the hands of the Bulldogs. Although Vandy has yet to beat a team from a BCS conference this year (their wins came against Austin Peay, UMass, and UAB), the offense has been very successful through six games, specifically the team’s passing game. Led by former Wyoming signal caller Austin Carta-Samuels, the Commodores are 35th in the nation in passing yards per game with 272. Carta-Samuels has done a solid job connecting with Vanderbilt’s receiving core, led by senior Jordan Matthews, through six games, shown by his 66.1 completion percentage with 1,561 yards and ten touchdowns.
In order for the Bulldogs to stop Vanderbilt’s offense from turning this game into a shootout, the team must force Carta-Samuels to turn the ball over. While he has done a solid job leading the Commodores this year, his interceptions are a little higher than what is to be desired, as the senior from San Jose has six interceptions and a streak of four straight games with a turnover. One of Georgia’s main issues in the team’s loss to Missouri last week was getting beat solidly in the turnover margin, as the Dawgs gave the Tigers the ball four different times and ultimately failed to take the ball away from Missouri a single time in a game that saw Georgia lose by 15. With a defense that is admittedly weak and an offense that has been devastated by injuries, the Bulldogs need all the help they can get, which will have to include playing opportunistic football and taking what the Dores attempt to give them.
Meanwhile on offense, the Bulldogs desperately need to find someone to fill the hole that injuries to Keith Marshall (out for the year) and Todd Gurley (doubtful) have created in the running game. Although freshman running backs JJ Green and Brendan Douglas have done a decent job stepping up to the plate in the last two contests, neither one has had the breakaway ability that Gurley and Marshall both possess, leaving the Dawgs’ opposition to simply play the pass for the majority of the time. Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will be hesitant to call more Aaron Murray keepers like this 57-yard scamper against Tennessee (could you imagine if Murray went down on a play like that?), which leaves a huge question mark around the running game. Along with Green and Douglas, Georgia will have to get some help from fullback Quayvon Hicks as well as some fly sweeps and end-arounds from wide receivers Rantavious Wooten or Chris Conley to keep the Commdores’ defense honest.
Prediction: Georgia needs a big win in order to keep their hopes in the SEC East alive, but going to Atlanta is the least of their worries in the first half of this game. Once again, Georgia’s defense struggles to slow down the opposing offense, and at halftime Vanderbilt holds a startling 24-17 lead. Fortunately, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham gets his guys going for the third quarter, which sees Georgia force two turnovers and score two unanswered touchdowns to go into the fourth with a touchdown lead. The Dores continue to fight hard through the fourth, but fall just short of handing Georgia two straight losses for the first time since the beginning of the 2011 season. Final Score Georgia Bulldogs 41, Vanderbilt Commodores 31