2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 6 - Vanderbilt at Alabama
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Oct. 8 at Alabama 34 … Vanderbilt 0
CFN Analysis: Vanderbilt never had a chance. The Tide defense was dominant from the start, allowing just 41 yards on the ground, while the offense did a nice job of not screwing anything up. It might have taken a half to get everything rolling, but there wasn't any chance of an upset. Vandy is great at forcing takeaways, and the only way Bama would be in any sort of trouble was with a slew of turnovers. AJ McCarron was nearly perfect, completing 23-of-30 passes for 237 yards and four scores, and Trent Richardon ran well getting just 107 yards on 19 carries. The D didn't come up with any sacks, but it camped out in the backfield and generated solid pressure all game long. Everything is working at a high level, and after the obligatory win over Ole Miss, then the fun finally begins with Tennessee and the showdown against LSU. A little more of a pass rush would be still be nice, but that's nitpicking.
It's not crime to get shut down cold by the Alabama defense. Vandy didn't have a prayer offensively with Jordan Rodgers stepping in for Larry Smith and with neither quarterback moving the chains. The defense had to come up with a slew of big plays and takeaways for any chance to keep it interesting, and it didn't happen. The back seven couldn't come up with any stops on third down and the defensive front got pushed around. The pass rush was nice and there were plenty of plays in the backfield, but no takeaways. After scoring three points in two games, coming up with something on offense, anything, is a must against a hot Georgia.
(AP) TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- AJ McCarron passed for career-highs of 237 yards and four touchdowns and No. 2 Alabama beat Vanderbilt 34-0 on Saturday night.
Trent Richardson rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown in his fifth straight 100-yard effort for the Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference), which already has two shutouts.
The Commodores (3-2, 1-2) trailed by only seven points until the final minute of the opening half, then Alabama brushed them aside with four straight touchdown drives.
McCarron was 23 of 30 passing and didn't add to Vandy's national-best 14 interceptions before sitting out most of the fourth quarter. He hit DeAndrew White for touchdowns of 5 and 39 yards, the first scores of the receiver's career.
Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers replaced starter Larry Smith in the first half and played the rest of the way. Smith headed to the locker room with a lower leg injury.
Coach James Franklin said he could have returned.
Alabama outgained Vanderbilt 419 to 190 in total yards and allowed only 48 yards and two first downs after halftime.
The Tide, which has the nation's No. 1 scoring defense, has already recorded two shutouts for the first time since 2008.
Alabama got off to a slow start trying to follow up dominant performances against Arkansas and Florida in much-hyped games that turned into mismatched. The Tide took a 14-0 lead into halftime after McCarron's 5-yarder to a leaping White in the back of the end zone with 21 seconds left.
McCarron could have practically strolled into the end zone after a pump fake, but fired it to White instead.
Vandy had missed two field goals and failed to cash in on four trips into Alabama territory in the first half. The Commodores didn't get many more opportunities, getting outgained 174-19 in the third quarter.
The game turned into a showcase for McCarron, who matched his total touchdown passes from the first five games, and his receivers. Marquis Maze had a career-high nine catches for 93 yards.
Playing without injured No. 2 rusher Eddie Lacy (foot), Alabama switched back to smashmouth on its first drive of the second half after McCarron threw 23 passes in the first. The Tide marched 94 yards with 11 runs by Richardson and 246-pounder Jalston Fowler and one pass.
Richardson practically walked the final yard for his 11th TD run and then McCarron added his long TD pass to White to make it 28-0.
Rodgers, the brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, finished 11-of-18 passing for 104 yards and was intercepted twice in the second half. The Commodores ran for just 41 yards on 19 carries.
McCarron hit a leaping DeAndrew White in the back of the end zone with 21 seconds left before the half, capping a 13-play, 78-yard drive. He could have practically strolled into the end zone after a pump fake, but fired it to White instead.
He polished his night off with a 17-yard scoring toss to Darius Hanks early in the fourth.
Vanderbilt (3-1) at Alabama (5-0) Oct. 8, 7:00, ESPNU
Here's The Deal … September 29, 1984. Vanderbilt 30, Alabama 21. It's been 20 games since the Commodores last beat the Tide with Alabama winning 34 of the last 35 meetings going back to 1969.
Vandy is due.
The Commodores are improving quickly under new head coach James Franklin, and while the 21-3 loss to South Carolina two weeks ago was a clunker, there's promise and potential thanks to a defense that's doing a terrific job of keeping scores low and forcing mistakes. The offense isn't exactly rolling, though, but still, the Commodores have yet to allow more than 21 points, they're forcing a slew of big mistakes, and they're more than just competitive. But Alabama is also forcing big mistakes and its defense has yet to allow more than 14 points.
The Tide is playing at a national title level, with the offense starting to come around to help out a D that doesn't need much assistance. Arkansas just rolled for 510 passing yards against Texas A&M, but was held to 14 points by Bama. Florida managed just ten points at home, with the lone touchdown coming in the first few seconds, and did nothing after starting quarterback John Brantley got knocked out.
Vanderbilt is just strong enough defensively to keep this close, but it'll take a few huge breaks to have any shot of pulling out the win. With three straight home games coming up, and four in the next five including winnable dates against Kentucky and Army, the Commodores can survive a loss to, arguably, the best team in the nation and still be in the hunt for a bowl game. But Franklin is a true believe who'll have his team thinking it can pull off the shocker. If nothing else, Vandy will fight.
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: The defense continues to be strong and it continues to force a slew of takeaways. It didn't get any luck against South Carolina, with just one pick, but it forced six fumbles and wasn't able to come up with any. Alabama has been stingy with the ball for the most part, with all four interceptions thrown in the opener against Kent State, and two for the three fumbles coming against North Texas, but Vandy has a way of forcing mistakes.
Bama is too good to let down and come up with a total clunker, but if there was ever going to be an exhale, this might be the time coming off the win over Florida and the big SEC opener against Arkansas. It might take a little while for the Tide to wake up, and against a defense that's rock-solid against decent passing games, the Bama O could sputter for a little bit. The receivers haven't been special so far, and the Commodore defensive backs have been swarming and special.
Why Alabama Might Win: Yeah, Vandy has a way of forcing turnovers and focuses all its efforts on going for the strip or the pick, but Bama has been perfect lately. After giving up four picks in the opener, the Tide quarterbacks haven't thrown a pick since. There were four fumbles against Kent State, too, losing one, and there were two lost fumbles against North Texas, but there weren't any turnovers when focused against Penn State and there weren't any the last two weeks against Arkansas and Florida. Beyond that, against those three teams there weren't any fumbles, period. Vanderbilt needs to be at least +3 in turnover margin, and even then that probably wouldn't be enough.
The Commodore offense just doesn't work. The offensive line has been terrible, the passing game is non-existent, and the backs aren't making anything big happen. Outside of a great day running the ball against Ole Miss, almost all the points have come after big plays from a great defense that's giving the O a short field. Again, if Bama isn't giving the ball away, the Commodores can't do much. How good is the Alabama defense? It allowed 107 rushing yards to Penn State and gave up 68 to North Texas. It then held Arkansas to 17 yards on 19 carries, and Florida to 15 yards on 29 carries. Consider it an upset if Vandy gets 200 yards of total offense.
What To Watch Out For: Two scary problems for Bama turned out to not be that big a deal. Star linebacker C.J. Mosley was knocked out of the Arkansas game with a tough-looking elbow injury, and he wasn't missed in the win over Florida. It's not as bad as originally feared and he'll be back in the mix, while home run hitting running back Eddie Lacy is playing through a turf toe problem. It doesn't appear to be limiting him much yet, but the less work he gets and the more time he has to rest, the better.
Vandy's 5-11, 188-pound senior corner Casey Hayward is making an All-America statement over the first half of the year with four interceptions in the first four games, making two against South Carolina, to go along with 15 tackles and two broken up passes. His 50-yard pick six against UConn turned out to be the game winner, and he snuffed out two Gamecock drives to keep his middling offense in the game.
What Will Happen: Alabama will go through the motions and win with ease. The defense will keep Vandy's offense to under 150 yards and it'll be a shocker if Bama allows more than ten points. The Tide will run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, and it'll come up with an easy win.
CFN Prediction: Alabama 38 … Vanderbilt 6
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Alabama -29 O/U: 41.5
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