ATLANTA – Steve Spurrier’s unbeaten string in 14 games with Vanderbilt ended last year when the Commodores posted an impressive 17-6 victory on the road and sent South Carolina into a tailspin.
Vandy gets a shot at two in a row on Thursday night when the Commodores and Gamecocks clash in the season’s first SEC game. The Commodores are pumped up, coming off a season-opening victory at Miami of Ohio.
Carolina also enters with a 1-0 mark, having blanked North Carolina state last week.
Vandy hopes rest with quarterback Chris Nickson, who had 20 carries for 166 yards last week in the 34-13 triumph over Miami.
Coach Bobby Johnson isn’t worried about his quarterback’s workload.
“We know we’ve got to run the quarterback some to stay competitive, and it gives us a chance for some big plays,” Johnson said. “We want to regulate the amount of times he runs down the field, but it’s part of our offense and we’ve got to do it.”
Spurrier takes his team to Nashville as a 10-point favorite.
“Well, we’re just mad at ourselves for last year,” Spurrier said. “I’ve said many times that it was one of the worst offensive games personally I’ve ever attempted to coach. “We had our chances to score a few points, but we found a way not to get it done. Give Vandy credit.”
Can Nickson lead the ‘Dores to another win over Spurrier? Nope. South Carolina 24-17.
Elsewhere around the SEC, with Tennessee having an open date and No. 7 LSU postponing its game with Troy because of Hurricane Gustav:
Tulane (plus 30) at No. 13 Alabama: John Parker Wilson has the Tide offense perking and the way the defense shut down Clemson last week brought back memories of Bama under a former coach nicknamed the Bear. Alabama 31-7.
Louisiana-Monroe (plus 12½) vs. Arkansas at Little Rock: For the second week in a row the Warhawks face an SEC foe. For the second week in a row they lose. Arkansas 21-7.
Southern Mississippi at No. 9 Auburn: The Golden Eagles were impressive in 30-point victory over Louisiana-Lafayette, netting 633 yards, including 427 on the ground, 222 of it from Damion Fletcher. Tigers won’t get second straight shutout, but will claim second straight victory. Auburn 28-14.
Miami (plus 21½) at No. 5 Florida: No Florida coach has ever beaten Miami on his first attempt in The Swamp. Tim Tebow & Co. will make that change, handing Urban Meyer a victory in his first Gainesville appearance against the Canes. Florida 31-7.
Central Michigan (plus 23½) at No. 2 Georgia: Last tuneup for Dogs before opening conference play next week at South Carolina. Stafford, Moreno & Co. take care of business. Georgia 35-14.
Norfolk State (no line) at Kentucky: Who can blame Rich Brooks for touting his Wildcat defense after the stellar performance against Louisville. Wildcat defenders scored two touchdowns, one a 72-yard run by 310-pound tackle Myron Pryor. Kentucky 31-3.
Mississippi (plus 8) at No. 20 Wake Forest: Jim Grobe has built the Demon Deacons into a tough foe, especially at home, but the Rebels will give them a battle. Wake Forest 24-17.
Southeastern Louisiana (no line) at Mississippi State: Louisiana Tech did the Lions no favor when it beat State last week. You can bet Sylvester Croom will have his Bulldogs ready this week. Mississippi State 28-7.
Totals for last week and for year: straight 7-5, vs. spread 6-3.