Thursday, October 2, 2008

Naval Intelligence: Biggest game in 60 years?

The No. 19 Vanderbilt Commodores, in sole possession of the SEC East, have control of their destiny against the No. 13/14 Auburn Tigers, and the buzz surrounding this game has some wondering whether this could be the game that reboots the program.
One of the aspects of GameDay that is somewhat obvious is the effect that your game being featured has on the "buzz" surrounding the games. That buzz is generated by ESPN's promotions that lead up to the game: increased exposure for your team on highlights, longer and more in-depth coaching interviews, and short segments that include interviews with players designed to build the general public's awareness of the game so that ESPN will have viewers for their show on Saturday morning.

After all, let's remember that for them, this is big-time business.

What is going under-reported, however, is just how much buzz this game has generated. There have literally been hundreds of articles and blog posts about our game this Saturday, when normally there usually around 100 or so (depending on who our opponent is) each week.

It's hard to tell whether this is because of the ESPN exposure or because of the massive, straight-from-Hollywood storyline: 60-year underdog faces traditional giant in game that could restore them to life.

In some ways, this game is almost like the Adam Sandler movie Waterboy, except you should substitute inbred Cajuns with overbred Vanderfolk for the protagonists' home crowd. Otherwise the parallels are all there: a school with an historic legacy that has toiled in relative obscurity; a once-great coach, trying to build a program the "right way," and an overbearing State U. football factory with a name-brand coach looking to maintain dominance no matter what.

It really is made-for-TV stuff.

And that's what's making news in Commodore Country today:

Chris Low writes one of the best Vanderbilt articles I've ever read (literally had me wanting to stand up at cheer at the end).

PhilipVU94 sees blogs all over giving us some respect in the National Blog Poll (sort of like Garnet and Black Attack's SEC Blog Power Rankings, except for the whole country).

Marv has three keys to VU success over at the newly re-vamped Who Ya With blog (and though I love WYW, I'm disappointed they de-linked S&S).

Hairy Turdy, a new WYW contributor, has details on the betting line, and it's good news for the Commodores (if you believe the betting public knows what it's doing, that is).

Seamus O'Toole lets Auburnite Clark Williams preview the game over on VSL, and he predicts a somewhat weird score of Auburn 24-16 Vanderbilt (I like what one VSL commenter said in reply: "If Auburn scores 24 points, I'll eat my shoe").

Jimmy Morris stresses VU defense and special teams on the quest for 5-0 (hopefully, Jimmy's, and Auburn's, overlooking of the return of George Smith mean a big day for our much-maligned last-in-the-SEC offense).

Chris Low picks Vanderbilt to beat Auburn 20-13 (with a great quote about the 'Dores "finding a way to win" -- talk about an upside down year -- isn't that usually "finding a way to lose" when it's about us?).

Steve Meril, betting guru, tries to figure out whether Vanderbilt is "for real" (his conclusion: they were when we said they weren't, and now they aren't, 'cause we say they're not -- great, great logic).

Ray Fittipaldo says 'Dores win, 17-15 (now that'll be an interesting game... Auburn's points: 3 + 3 + 7 + 2? or 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3? or maybe 3 + 7 + 2?).

Pasquali picks Auburn, 23-13 (but says some very nice things about us before he does).

Bob Holt has some great quotes from Steve Spurrier and Mark Richt about the resurgence of the Commodores (my favorite: "Your fans don’t want to hear you lost to Vanderbilt, but they are a heck of team. They are well-coached, they do have athletes, they do have speed and they have what it takes to win. They’re legit. They’re not some kind of one-time lucky deal. These guys are legit" -- talk about endorsement -- should we put that in the media guide?).

Steve Megargee features the Commodores in his preview of the SEC for Week 6 at Rivals.com (he also gives props to Chris Nickson and D.J. Moore).

Mike Herndon looks at the SEC's suprising 4-0 teams: Vanderbilt and Kentcuky, and analyzes which one is more likely to make it to 5-0 (hint: he likes our chances).

Matthew Keegan gets campy, but picks VU late, 27-24 (I'm so tired of rhyming "dandy" and "Vandy").

MVN.com picks us for the game of the week, and then explains why they take the 'Dores 13-10.

Joe Biddle quotes three of the SEC's great coaches as they talk about their respect for Coach Johnson (and you know what's great? we've beaten 2 out of 3 of these guys in the past 2 years).

Maurice Patton reads between the lines to argue that Auburn wishes Chris Nickson was suiting up in Blue and Orange this Saturday (after all, Chris is a Brundidge, Ala. native -- only about an hour from Jordan-Hare Stadium).

Blake Larsen reads S&S, and the other Vanderblogs -- at least, that's what I gather after reading his article previewing the game (great quotes from us, VSL, and WYW -- maybe next time use some quotation marks?).

Brett Hait previews the match-up with some timely analysis as always.

Ron Higgins explains why sportswriters want Vanderbilt to win (and not just against Auburn -- money quote: "Fight on, Vandy. Get that blasted bowl bid").

Auburn defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks is worried about Chris Nickson (is that pronounced "Shawn-derrick"? I know, I know, read the media guide).

Travis Haney thinks we're cutesy, and he didn't like the South Carolina DVDs from last season (and one has to admit, are we going to milk every win over a ranked opponent?).

I plan on emailing this jerk from Clanton, Ala. if we beat Auburn or if we make a bowl (you should, too).

Scott Page tells us about his uncle Kurt Page, the last Commodore quarterback to lead the 'Dores to a Top 25 ranking (definitely a cool story -- let's just hope ours ends on a happier note).

Chris Low headlines Chris Nickson's health, and for good reason.

Chris Low also cheers for Robbie Caldwell, the Vanderbilt offensive line coach.

Derric Winslet picks Auburn, 17-13 (but he says we have momentum and confidence, hedging his bets).

Grayson says Auburn will put "the lesser class" in its place with a win over the 'Dores (whether we win the game or not, I think the folks on West End could teach him a thing or two about class).

Natenet picks the 'Dores, 13-7, in what he calls an "affront to God" (am I missing something here?).

Bob Epling picks Auburn, but he says it's because he doesn't have the guts to pick Vanderbilt (at least he's honest).

Randall Rowe pics the Tigers, 21-14 (because of Auburn's "national championship caliber" defensive play).

Friday Night Tailgates picks Auburn, 14-7 (but it's difficult to take seriously a blogger who doesn't know that the "Commodore" is Vanderbilt's mascot -- could it be that he couldn't spell it?).

People from Alabama continue to parody themselves, with this amazing GameDay sign suggestion from Auburntron.com: "No. 9: GameDay or not your still nerds." (And no, I spelled it the way the had it).

Meyton Panning uses his Yew Tee-Auburn game preview, only striking out a few things here and there, to preview the Auburn-Vanderbilt games (talk about schadenfreude for Vandyfolk!).

PICK 'EM TALLY: Vanderbilt to win, 5; Auburn to win, 7.

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