JOE BIDDLE: Vandy hits six wins with two left - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Vandy hits six wins with two left

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In beating Kentucky at Vanderbilt Stadium, the Commodores became bowl eligible for an unprecedented third straight season.

With Tennessee and Wake Forest remaining on the regular season schedule, Vanderbilt could equal last season's nine-win total with a postseason win.

Whatever occurs the rest of the schedule, you can bet Coach James Franklin will be a hot prospect for elite teams such as Southern Cal that will be hiring a new coach.

Not only has Franklin changed the culture on his football team, he has sent shock waves through a fan base, many of whom had given up the ghost that had been Vanderbilt football for most, if not all, of their lives.

Using Franklin's math, his team had been 1-0 for six weeks of the season. It has been 0-1 for four other weeks.

What Franklin had accomplished at Vanderbilt is phenomenal. You have had to weathered the past to appreciate the present.

Vanderbilt Athletic Director David Williams and gung-ho football booster John Ingram better get their checkbooks out. Franklin is thought to be making $3.1 million a year. That's chump change for a Texas or Southern Cal.

Franklin has changed Vanderbilt into a team that is no longer SEC bottom feeders. They are now competitive and with Franklin's recruiting record to date, the future looks even brighter.

TV sportscaster and former Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware voiced his surprise on the Saturday telecast that Franklin's name has not been mentioned at the top of lists at programs that have, or will have, a vacancy.

Franklin's team allowed Kentucky to hang around for three quarters. Vanderbilt nursed a 9-6 lead going into the fourth quarter, but put 13 more points on the scoreboard and all of a sudden, 22-6 looked much more palpable.

Good teams can play below their capability and still win games. That's what happened Saturday.

"We grinded it out,'' Franklin said after the game.

"We didn't play a very clean game. We had nine penalites (74 yards), which were way too many.  We have to get that cleaned up. We've got to do a better job on third downs (4 of 15).''

The game marked the return of starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, who has been out with a knee injury. He was 19 of 24 for 184 yards, but was sacked three times.

Carta-Samuels fed All-American wide receiver Jordan Matthews 12 times for 141 yards and relied on Jerron Seymour for 77 yards on the ground on 21 carries.

It was Vanderbilt's defense that stood tall against Kentucky's spread offense. The Commodores picked off four of Jalen Whitlow's passes, helping to stop Kentucky drives and hold the Wildcats to a lone touchdown. The Cats gave back two of those points when the point after attempt was blocked and returned to the end zone for a safety.

"It's the same old song and dance,'' said Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops, as his team dropped to 2-8 and still searching for its first SEC win after six games.

"I'm upset and frustrated. I thought our team played hard, but we just didn't make plays when we had to. We had certain plays set up and we didn't execute and (Vanderbilt) executed their plays. That was the difference.''

So that leaves Tennessee and Wake Forest to close out Vanderbilt's regular season. The Commodores will be favored in both games.

But in Franklin math, they have two weeks left to go 1-0 each week.

Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.  

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