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A Game-By-Game Preview Of The Commodores 2023 Schedule

Coming off of a 5-7 season where the Clark Lea-coached Vanderbilt Commodores just missed o a bowl game, there is plenty of excitement on West End Avenue in Nashville, Tennessee. "While we celebrate improvement, we will ever celebrate 5-7. Post-season play is always the goal" is the attitude from Clark Lea entering the season. Let's take a look at how the 2023 season will progress for the black ad gold.

August 26th- Hawaii
Photo Credit Amy Meredith-Flickr

For the second season in a row, Vanderbilt will open their season playing in Week 0, this time on August 26th. Also for the second consecutive season, the black and gold will be playing the Hawaii Rainbows in their kick-off to the season. In 2022, Clark Lea took his team across the country a week early and despite a lackluster start, his football team capped a business trip with a 63-10 win over a program in shambles after replacing 53 different players. In 2023, I expect Vanderbilt to once again lay the wood and walk away with a relatively easy victory. Vanderbilt wins 49-14 to move to 1-0.

September 2nd- Alabama A&M

Starting off Labor Day weekend with a job to do, Coach Lea and his troops will be hosting the Alabama A & M Bulldogs. With the Bulldogs being an FCS team in the SWAC that went 4-7 in 2022, fans of the black and gold should expect another relatively easy victory. Good guys take it 56-17 and move to 2-0.

September 9th- Wake Forrest

The weekend of September 9 presents Vanderbilt with their first test of the season in a road trip to Winston-Salem, NC to take on the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. Looking at what transpired in 2022, the Commodores fell behind early and trailed 21-3 before a TD pulled them to within 21-10 at halftime. Starting the 2nd half, Wake scored another TD followed by a Vandy turnover that led to a second score to make the count 35-10 before AJ Swann entered the game for his first meaningful snaps of the season. The Deacs won by a count of 45-25. Gone from that Wake Forest team is Sam Hartman. This makes this rendition of the Demon Deacons a little less potent offensively and this game should be highly competitive. Vanderbilt steals one on the road, 28-17 to improve to 3-0.

September 16th- UNLV

Game number 4 brings another road trip, this time to Las Vegas to face the UNLV Rebels. In a massive rebuilding job, UNLV has landed former Missouri head coach, Barry Odom. Despite having an SEC background, there seems to be a lack of SEC-caliber football players at UNLV currently. Playing in Allegiant Stadium, the home of the Las Vegas Raiders, Clark Lea hangs his hat on his first-ever 4-game win streak with a 31-17 win to reach 4-0 for the first time since 2008.

September 23rd- Kentucky

The start of SEC play brings the Kentucky Wildcats to Nashville searching for redemption after losing in Lexington in 2022. That win marked the first-ever SEC win for Clark Lea and ended a losing skid in the SEC that dated back to October 19, 2019, a string of 26 consecutive conference battles. While Kentucky has lost Will Levis to the Tennessee Titans, his replacement appears to be Devin Leary, formerly of NC State. Vanderbilt counters with a new QB of their own with AJ Swann. The combination of Swann to Will Sheppard rises to the occasion and ekes out another win, this time by the identical score from 2022, 24-21. This sets the Commodores record at 5-0, which ties their start from 2008.

September 30th- Missouri

The Missouri Tigers visit Nashville on September 30 for a pivotal game that many Vanderbilt fans are looking forward to. In 2022, in Columbia, Mo, the Tigers survived a late Vanderbilt charge to win 17-15. The game hinged on the failure of Vanderbilt to pick up a first down late in the game that likely would have put them in FG position for a walk-off win. With the game being in Nashville, and the Commodores feeling really good about themselves, the black and gold find a way to finish the deal in 2023. Inside of a stadium undergoing a major facelift, AJ Swann and company win 28-14 and for the first time since 1906, Vanderbilt sits at 6-0. I look for the Commodores to break into the Top 25 at this point.

October 7th- Florida

October 7 brings a road trip to Gainesville, Florida for a trip to The Swamp to face the Florida Gators. A team that Vanderbilt shocked in Nashville in 2022, the Gators are likely struggling mightily at this point of the season. Even so, this game is in The Swamp, a place the Commodores traditionally do not win. Florida upends the black and gold 17-14 and hands Clark Lea his first loss of 2023, leaving the record at 6-1.

October 14th- Georgia

The eighth game of the Commodores season brings the Georgia Bulldogs to Nashville. The reality is that UGA is in a much different place than Vanderbilt is and the Commodores just don’t have enough Jimmy’s and Joe’s to put up much of a challenge. Georgia leaves without breaking a sweat in a 49-10 beatdown. Vanderbilt walks out with a 6-2 record and a much-needed bye week after playing for 8 straight weeks.

October 28th- Ole Miss

Following a much-needed week off, Clark Lea leads his men to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Ole Miss Rebels. With Jaxon Dart at the helm and Quinshon Judkins to hand the ball off to, The Rebel's offense is just too much for CJ Taylor and his defensive cohorts. Ole Miss wins 38-28 and leaves Vanderbilt with a 6-3 record after three straight losses.

November 4th- Auburn

Coming back to the friendly confines of First Bank Stadium, the black and gold welcome the Auburn Tigers in a very winnable game. Led by AJ Swann throwing darts to Will Sheppard and a huge day for CJ Taylor, the Dores drop an anchor in the Tiger's (or is it the War Eagles?) tail, pulling out a 28-17 win and advancing their record to 7-3.

November 11th- South Carolina

The eleventh game of the season brings a road trip to Williams-Brice Stadium to face Spencer Rattler and his South Carolina Gamecocks. In 2022, Vanderbilt did everything it needed to upend the scarlet and black, however, SC hit far too many big plays en route to a win in Nashville. I expect the same result in 2023. South Carolina defeats Vanderbilt 37-28 leaving Vanderbilt with a 7-4 record.

November 25th- Tennesse

November 25th brings the annual in-state rivalry with the Tennessee Volunteers, this time in Neyland Stadium. In 2022, Vanderbilt was playing for bowl eligibility and the Volunteers took it to the black and gold, shutting them out in their own house. Again, this is a team that Vanderbilt just doesn’t match up with physically at this stage of Clark Lea’s tenure, but improvements have been made.

Tennessee holds serve 28-17 and the Vanderbilt Commodores finish the regular season with their first winning record since 2013 by going 7-5.

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1 Comment

Fantastic breakdown! I believe that seven wins is very possible. Keep up the good work, Chris!

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