Pasquali's Pix: Georgia will end two-year losing streak to Vols

Pasquali's Pix: Georgia will end two-year losing streak to Vols

September 28th, 2017 by David Paschall in Sports - Columns

Alabama running back Najee Harris leaps over Vanderbilt safety Arnold Tarpley III (2) in the second half of this past Saturday's game in Nashville. The top-ranked Crimson Tide controlled the game from start to finish in a 59-0 win, including possessing the ball for the final 11:45 of the fourth quarter.

Photo by Mark Humphrey

Sulking has not been allowed in Nashville.

After enduring a 59-0 loss to top-ranked Alabama last week at home, Vanderbilt's football team returned to practice Monday with a rare full-pads workout. Commodores coach Derek Mason said Wednesday that last week's demolishing, which followed three straight wins to open the season, resulted in far more personal anger than embarrassment.

"When some guys came into my office on Sunday, they knew I was angry," Mason said. "It's one thing to be disappointed, but disappointment goes away. The anger and the stench of a loss like that — you don't wash it off. You don't take a shower and it just rolls down the drain.

"It's about getting back to work."

Alabama racked up 677 yards and 38 first downs against a Vanderbilt defense that was leading the nation in multiple categories. The Commodores produced just 78 yards and watched the Crimson Tide close out the game with a 15-play drive that consumed the final 11 minutes and 45 seconds.

OTHER PICKS

Arkansas 35, New Mexico St. 26

LSU 42, Troy 19

Kentucky 39, E. Michigan 28

Miami 28, Duke 25

Southern Cal 41, Wash. State 32

Wisconsin 26, Northwestern 21

N.C. State 31, Syracuse 20

Penn State 34, Indiana 13

Florida State 17, Wake Forest 14

Notre Dame 30, Miami (Ohio) 7

Louisville 48, Murray State 9

MTSU 31, Florida Atlantic 30

Memphis 25, UCF 22

Ohio State 36, Rutgers 17

Washington 49, Oregon St. 16

Oklahoma St. 42, Texas Tech 35

Kansas State 37, Baylor 24

Had Alabama scored a touchdown in the final two minutes after having first-and-goal at Vandy's 3-yard line, the potential 66-0 outcome would have topped Tennessee's 65-0 thrashing of the Commodores in 1994 as the worst defeat in program history.

"This football team is different from the other teams that I've had," Mason said, "and this was the first time they had faced some adversity this season, and I'm talking about some serious adversity in terms of knocking you off from where you're trying to go. It was about getting back to ground zero with a hard-hat mentality.

"Sometimes you earn the right to lighten it up on Mondays a little bit and get your bodies back, but we didn't have a lot of snaps offensively. We had to pull some defensive guys out of that practice. We got back to work, and it was exactly what this group needed."

Vanderbilt entered last Saturday coming off a 14-7 win over No. 18 Kansas State. The Commodores travel to No. 21 Florida on Saturday and return home next weekend to host Georgia, which is No. 7 heading into Saturday's game at Tennessee.

Might Mason and Vanderbilt's athletic department look to the Southeastern Conference office to help avoid such a brutal stretch in future seasons?

"I don't think anybody really cares about that," he said. "I know I don't get into situations that I don't necessarily control. I may talk about those issues when the time is right, but I'm going to play the games that they give me. This football team is capable of playing really good football.

"That didn't necessarily show itself last week, but we've got a gauntlet, and the next team up is Florida."

Pasquali's Pix:

Vanderbilt at Florida: Gators coach Jim McElwain has an SEC East record (13-1) that is somewhat reminiscent of Steve Spurrier's time in Gainesville. McElwain's margins of victory, however, are not. Gators 17, Commodores 12.

North Carolina at Georgia Tech: Larry Fedora's Tar Heels are 1-3 this season despite leading all four games in the fourth quarter. Yellow Jackets 31, Tar Heels 24.

Georgia at Tennessee: The Volunteers are wearing their "Smokey grey" uniforms, which could make the beloved Team 121 trash can harder to locate. Bulldogs 30, Vols 17.

Mississippi State at Auburn: Your SEC football rankings for September 2017: 1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. The winner of this one. Tigers 27, Bulldogs 20.

Western Carolina at UTC: According to comparative scores of Mocs games so far this season, LSU would beat VMI by 91 points. Mocs 24, Catamounts 19.

South Carolina at Texas A&M: Nothing against these programs individually, but this may be the worst cross-divisional matchup in college football. Aggies 26, Gamecocks 20.

Clemson at Virginia Tech: If you had to rank the top 40-somethings in terms of college football coaches, Clemson's Dabo Swinney, Penn State's James Franklin and Virginia Tech's Justin Fuente wouldn't be a bad place to start. Tigers 21, Hokies 17.

Ole Miss at Alabama: Since the start of the 2014 season, the Crimson Tide are 1-2 against Ole Miss and 43-2 against everyone else. Crimson Tide 38, Rebels 13.

Last week:

Winners......................23

Vandy first downs.........3

Pasquali is 83-16 overall (83.8 percent) this season.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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