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Inside Enemy Territory: Vanderbilt Edition

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Checking in with the SEC’s smartypants contingent.

Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Welcome back to Inside Enemy Territory, where this week we’re taking a plunge into the Internet postings of the Vanderbilt Commodores fanbase — which, true to the brand, is probably the most articulate message board fodder you’ll read. Vandy’s community seems rather spread out across the Interwebs, and since I’m not a premium member at either Rivals or 247Sports, those boards were off limits to me. However, 14Powers’ VandyMania forum was pretty active, and allowed me to scrounge up some good material.

Let’s get to it.

Pre-season, I saw the SCAR game as about a 35% chance to win for Vandy, but VU has looked better than expected and SCAR has not. At this point I would call it a toss-up at worst and probably leans a little toward the Commodores. The cancelled game with Marshall denies SCAR a game to work out some kinks following the loss to UGA, and that could work in favor of Vandy.

I’m a little worried about how the lack of the Marshall game could affect things as well, but it also has potential to work to the Gamecocks’ benefit. Regardless, I don’t think that alone is enough to give Vandy the edge in a toss-up scenario. I think it’s likely that USC is better than what they showed against Georgia, but also not the worldbeaters they looked like against Coastal Carolina. Where they ultimately land between those extremes is, unfortunately, anyone’s guess right now.

I’m pretty sure Georgia will expose lots of team’s weaknesses. South Carolina is a good team.

This, basically.

We can win, but we have to win turnovers battle and stop the run.

That last part is going to be key, because the Gamecocks really need to get some semblance of a ground game going.

No matter how “bad” South Carolina is from time to time, they always seem to have our number. I think I dislike that football team more than any other in the SEC. Over the years we should have had some success against them but we never seem to be able to beat them.

I can understand this poster’s frustration, because even the most talented teams in South Carolina history couldn’t manage to crush Vanderbilt (biggest win was 21-3 in 2011, which is technically dominant but not really eye-popping). These guys just always hang tough.

Good, bring them and their fans on. They think this will be a gimme and that isn’t happening. Dores by 10!

I’m sure there are, in fact, members of South Carolina’s fanbase who expect this game to be a layup. However, let me be the first to say I do not understand these people, and indeed I wonder if they’ve ever watched the Gamecocks play Vanderbilt before. Maybe it’s just a traumatic holdover from my college days — USC went on a two-year losing streak to the ‘Dores, which might be as bad as the current slump to Kentucky — but I absolutely do not ever expect a “gimme” against Vandy. I only wish that were the case.

SC got clobbered and we had a very close loss on the road to Notre Dame. How do these 2 teams respond? The psychological aspect is very important now: VU has hope based on their second half performance in their last game and SC wants to believe they have hope.

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This game will speak volumes about where VU is - are we moving forward or not? My guess is we will barely beat SC - but this is far from a confident prediction. More than most games this game will largely be determined by which team handles its respective last game mentally.

Disagree on the prediction, but do agree with the discussion about the mental component of this game. The Gamecocks can’t let Georgia beat them twice, and if you’re a Vandy fan, it makes sense to worry that the inspired performance against Notre Dame won’t have staying power.

Given South Carolina’s experience the last two weeks, they appear to be a question mark. Vanderbilt might play quite well against them and lose, or might beat them with less than a stellar effort.

Calling South Carolina a question mark is a fair assessment. We’re still working with a small sample size, and against two radically different teams in Coastal Carolina and Georgia. I certainly hope USC doesn’t lose to Vanderbilt if they bring anything less than their A-game, though.

Very, very winnable game ... but dogfight! May as well be a pick-em.

“Dogfight” is right. When was the last time a game against Vanderbilt was anything other than excruciating?

In conclusion, Vandy’s fans seem pretty grounded about their expectations for this one, and some extra confidence after the near-miss against Notre Dame is understandable.