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Vandy Gets Off To 2-0 Start

by Mike Mitchell
September 4, 2008

Vanderbilt downed South Carolina 24-17 on Thursday night to not only improve to 2-0, but to get off to a 1-0 start in the SEC.

On a national scale, it wasn't an important victory as South Carolina entered the game only ranked No. 24 in the AP and Coaches Polls, and No. 28 in the CCR Top 120. But it was huge for Vanderbilt. The Commodores were only ranked No. 61 in the CCR Top 120, and that was after moving up from No. 74 by virtue of their win at Miami (Ohio) in the season opener. They had not defeated a ranked opponent at home since 1992.

Could this be the corner head coach Bobby Johnson has been waiting to turn since he went to Nashville in 2002? Vanderbilt is already two games up on the computer's preseason forecast of a 2-10 campaign that included projected losses in each of their first two games. (The computer is 2-0 with Vanderbilt against the oddsmakers).

Could this be the year that Vanderbilt breaks a bowl-less stretch of seasons that dates back to the 1982 Hall of Fame bowl? Plenty of football remains to be played, but there is no question that Johnson has reason to be optimistic. However, naysayers will point out that the Commodores began the 2005 season with four straight wins before reeling off six straight losses and falling out of the bowl picture.

Meanwhile, South Carolina fans must feel deflated. Last year's 17-6 loss in Columbia ended its 7-game winning streak over Vanderbilt. Prior to that game, Vandy was 0-14 against teams coached by Steve Spurrier with records of 0-2 against his Duke teams, 0-10 versus his Gators, and 0-2 against his Gamecocks.

With a home game against rival Georgia next week, South Carolina could be off to a rocky 1-2 start after ending the 2007 season on a 5-game losing streak.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, gets Rice at home next Saturday.