Vanderbilt is in the midst of a 1-1 start to the 2016 football season, but as we know, it’s never too early to look ahead to next year.
The 2017 college football schedule was released Tuesday night and fans around the country are booking up hotel rooms. Vandy fans won’t be racking up the flyer miles like some teams, with nine of its 12 games within the state of Tennessee.
Vandy will start 2017 vs MTSU on the road on Saturday Sept. 2, snapping the four-year streak of Thursday night home openers. The game versus the Blue Raiders is the third of the four-year series between the two schools separated by 38 miles. Vandy has won the first two games.
The non-conference schedule rolls on with back-to-back home games versus Alabama A&M (Sept. 9) and Kansas State (Sept. 16) where the Wildcats will travel to Nashville for the second-ever meeting against the Commodores. Vandy won the first meeting in 1984 by a 26-14 score.
The Commodores finish the non-conference schedule versus regular foe Western Kentucky at home Nov. 4.
Every SEC team has it. If you can survive the hearty part of your SEC schedule, you’re on to something good. Vanderbilt’s looks gruesome:
Sept. 23 – Alabama (Nashville)
Sept. 30 – at Florida (Gainesville, Fla.)
Oct. 7 – Georgia (Nashville)
Oct. 14 – Ole Miss (Oxford, Miss.)
I don’t care who you are, even Alabama would struggle with that four-game stretch.
Getting the Crimson Tide as a cross-division opponent is something you just have to deal with every six seasons. Florida and Georgia might have some question marks depending on how 2016 continues to play out. Ole Miss will be going through transition with a new QB, and who knows what the outcome of the NCAA investigation could be.
The bye week arrives following the Ole Miss game and leads into a much more manageable month of games:
Oct. 28 – at South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.)
Nov. 4 – Western Kentucky (Nashville)
Nov. 11 – Kentucky (Nashville)
Nov. 18 – Missouri (Nashville)
This is where the Commodores will be pushing for bowl eligibility. Vanderbilt should win all four of these games, in theory. Will Muschamp will be in year two in Columbia and the Dores will seek revenge against his South Carolina squad after giving away a win in this season’s opener.
Getting three-straight home games in November should make Vandy fans ecstatic. Mark Stoops is doubtful to return to Kentucky for a fifth year as head coach after bombing the first two weeks this fall. Missouri will be better in year two under Barry Odom, but the Dores should win this one at home.
Vandy ends the 2017 season in Knoxville versus in-state rival Tennessee. As every year, if the Dores take down the Vols it’s a successful campaign.
Next season’s version of the Vols will look much different. Josh Dobbs and, most likely, Jalen Hurd will be gone. Key members of the defense will have graduated or moved to the next level.
Does Butch Jones have his next QB at Tennessee? It’s up in the air who will win the job. Derek Mason is running the defense and Kyle Shurmur will be 20 games more experienced by then. It could be a very fun matchup to end the year.
Best Fan Travel Game:
Go to Ole Miss. If you haven’t experienced the Grove, you absolutely need to. One of the best pregame atmospheres in college football is a sight Vandy fans have a chance to visit every other year, with the Rebels being the permanent cross-division opponent.