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Ranking the Most Important Nonconference Games for Vanderbilt


Vanderbilt nonconference
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Once considered the underdogs of the Southeastern Conference, the Vanderbilt Commodores have been striving to secure nonconference wins. Over the past five seasons, the Commodores managed a 12-9 record in nonconference games despite some challenging losses, such as their loss to East Tennessee State University at the start of the 2021 season.



Vanderbilt Faces Tough Conference, Nonconference Schedule

The SEC is brutal and unrelenting when it comes to the football season. Coach Clark Lea is looking forward to a new look at First Bank Stadium and welcoming in a pair of new SEC members, the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. The Commodores will face Texas along with a slew of SEC heavy hitters. Nonconference games are at a premium due to the chance of not winning a game in the SEC.


No. 4: Alcorn State Braves (2023: 7-4, 6-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference)

The Braves come to First Bank Stadium to take on the Commodores the second week of the season. That gives Vanderbilt a game to work the rust of the offseason off and hit someone other than their teammates. Unfortunately, this game appears to be one of only a few chances to register a win. The Braves should be an easy victory for Vanderbilt, and those will be few and far between this year.


Vanderbilt Nonconference
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No. 3: Ball State Cardinals (2023: 4-8, 3-5 Mid-American Conference)

The boys from Muncie, Ind., come to town between some tough SEC games with the University of Kentucky and the Longhorns. The Cardinals were a middle-of-the-pack team in the MAC last year but are always a tough out. Expect coach Mike Neu and his staff to have their team ready to play. Vanderbilt may come in a little beat up at this halfway point of the season, but they better not overlook the Cardinals. Redshirt freshman Kadin Semonza looks to be the next in line to play quarterback after Kiael Kelly hit the transfer portal. Semonza started three games as a true freshman last year and took a majority of the snaps in the Cardinal's spring game.



No. 2: Georgia State Panthers (2023: 7-6, 3-5 Sun Belt Conference)

The Panthers are another team that always seems to give Power Five schools issues, including knocking off SEC member the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville in 2019. The Panthers welcome in Georgia native and two-time National Champion Dell McGee as the run-game coordinator at the University of Georgia. McGee brings a knack for developing players and knowledge of the state of Georgia. Taking over this team that has only been around since 2010, Georgia State is breaking through the glass ceiling with every football achievement. Zach Gibson, the redshirt senior, looks to take this team to new heights in a tough Group of 5 conference at quarterback transferring from Georgia Tech in January 2024.


Vanderbilt Nonconference
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No.1 Virginia Tech Hokies (2023 7-6, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference)

Coming off a seven-win season and a good victory in the Military Bowl against a very good Tulane team, the Hokies look to start the new year with a bang. Coach Brent Pry looks to make a splash in his third season as the head man at Virginia Tech. The offense looks to continue to put up points, as they were one of the only teams in college football to win five conference games by 17 points or more, while also bolstering a top 20 defense.

Vanderbilt Nonconference
© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

If they want to put the college football world on notice right at the start of the season, the Commodores will need to have First Bank Stadium packed and excited as the Hokies are returning to the old days of Tech football. Virginia Tech is not a great road team as they have only gone 3-9 on the road under Pry. The Hokies and the Commodores have a lot to play for, and more so for Vanderbilt, as they don't have many wins ahead on their schedule. The Commodores need to get this one to hopefully jump-start the season and prove a lot of pundits wrong.






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