Bobby Johnson never succeeded in turning Vanderbilt into a powerhouse, but by the latter half of his career in Nashville, he'd at least turned the Commodores into a team too dangerous to overlook. After a pair of 2-10 seasons, though, Vandy appears to have regressed to doormat status, and it hasn't helped that they're now on their third coach in three years. Former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin has taken the reins from Robbie Caldwell, who stepped in after Johnson's abrupt retirement in the summer of 2010. Franklin inherits an experienced roster, but that roster has all of one SEC win to its credit over the last two seasons, so an immediate turnaround doesn't appear likely in Nashville.
BETTER KNOW THE COMMODORES
Coach: James Franklin, first year
Last season: 2-10, 1-7 SEC; finished 6th in the SEC East
Returning starters for 2011: 21 (11 offense, eight defense, two special teams)
Key returners: RB Warren Norman, LB Chris Marve, TE Brandon Barden, CB Casey Hayward
Key losses: DT Adam Smotherman, QB Jared Funk, C Joey Bailey
Best-case scenario: Georgia stomps Vandy badly enough that Aaron Murray is sitting on the bench sipping Powerade midway through the third quarter. Hey, even last year's Georgia team managed to pound the Commodores 43-0 -- they should be able to pull off a similar feat this time. If the Dawgs can beat Vandy and Tennessee and get revenge against either South Carolina or Mississippi State, they'd likely be no worse than 5-2 (4-1 in league play) heading into the bye week, with all five games left on the schedule being winnable.
Worst-case scenario: The Dawgs slog around for four quarters and escape Nashville by the skin of their teeth, picking up another SEC win but inspiring little confidence as they prepare for a late-season stretch that includes Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech. In their current state, Vandy doesn't look like much more than a tune-up, but the current state of the program is such that Mark Richt can ill afford getting played close in games his team should be putting away early. If Georgia doesn't enter the Vandy game holding a winning record, a blowout win may be vital to restoring some morale and confidence as the Dawgs head into a late-season schedule loaded with bitter rivals.