How good is Vanderbilt?

There is no doubt that James Franklin has created a buzz about Vanderbilt, leading to an optimism about the state of Vandy's football team that hasn't been seen since the Jay Cutler era. Combine this with Tennessee having just played the most brutal gauntlet I can remember anyone playing in the SEC since divisional play began in 1992, and we have a lot of people (Vegas included) thinking that Vanderbilt has a chance to beat Tennessee.

Really? Vanderbilt? I decided to take a look at the records and national rankings of the teams that both Vandy and Tennessee had beaten, to see if there was anything to be gleaned beyond a cursory examination of UT and VUs' own win/loss records. The records of the teams that have beaten each team would be nearly identical, since Tennessee has lost to all the same teams that have beaten Vandy, plus LSU (thanks oh so much, scheduling gods). I also did not include the records or rankings of the one non-FBS team each team has played (Tennessee wins that battle, as Montana is clearly a superior opponent to Elon).

Vanderbilt (5-5)

Wins: Elon, UConn, Ole Miss, Army, Kentucky

Opponent's Record: 13-26 (.333 winning %)


Average National Ranking

Passing Yards: 105.75

Rushing Yards: 65.75 (Army #1)

PF: 95.75

PA: 63.25



Tennessee (4-6)


Wins: Montana, Cincinatti, Buffalo, Middle Tennessee


Opponent's Record: 11-17 (.392 winning %)


Average National Ranking

Passing Yards: 55.33

Rushing Yards: 57.66

PF: 68.33

PA: 70.33


The first thing that jumps out is that Tennessee has played significantly better passing teams. Tennessee's beaten opponents have been slightly better at rushing the football, although Vanderbilt having played the number one rushing team in the nation (Army, who is 3-7, which tangentially proves you can;t be a good team by just running the football) probably skews their rank here. Overall, Tennessee has beaten significantly better offenses, and both teams have beaten comparable offenses.

Basically, Vanderbilt just doesn't pass the sniff test to me. UT and Vandy have lost to basically the same teams, and the quality of Tennessee's wins far surpasses that of Vandy's. And come on - it's Vandy.

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