Can Vanderbilt football win an SEC game in 2022? Here are our predictions
Vanderbilt football hasn't won an SEC game since 2019. This year, second-year coach Clark Lea is aiming for his first conference win — but the schedule doesn't do the Commodores any favors, with both participants in the national title game on the docket.
Here are game-by-game predictions for Vanderbilt's 2022 season:
Aug. 27: at Hawaii
Last season: Did not play. Hawaii went 6-7.
The buzz: It's hard to get a read on the Rainbow Warriors, who have a new coach and a team built mostly through the transfer portal. That uncertainty adds a new wrinkle to the preparation, but Vanderbilt should be the more talented squad.
The pick: Vanderbilt wins, 33-13.
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Sept. 3: vs. Elon
Last season: Did not play. Elon went 6-5.
The buzz: FCS teams might send a scare into Vanderbilt fans given what happened last year against ETSU, but the Phoenix aren't as good as the Buccaneers were.
The pick: Vanderbilt wins, 24-10.
Sept. 10: vs. Wake Forest
Last season: Did not play. Wake Forest went 11-3.
The buzz: The 2021 ACC Atlantic champions seemingly have a similar squad to last year: a potent offense with a defense that isn't up to snuff. But this time, there's more uncertainty in the status of QB Sam Hartman. Regardless of whether Hartman plays, the Commodores haven't shown much of an ability to win a shootout.
The pick: Wake Forest wins, 44-24.
Sept. 17: at Northern Illinois
Last season: Did not play. Northern Illinois went 9-5.
The buzz: On one hand, Vanderbilt has to play last year's MAC champion. On the other hand, the Huskies won so many one-score games that advanced analytics think they got lucky in 2021. The Commodores have to hope regression is coming.
The pick: Vanderbilt wins, 24-21.
Sept. 24: at Alabama
Last season: Did not play. Alabama went 13-2.
The buzz: Vanderbilt didn't get any favors with its scheduling in having to play last year's national runner-up. The Crimson Tide are loaded with talent from top to bottom and it seems unlikely this will go much better than the last matchup between the two in 2017.
The pick: Alabama wins, 58-7.
Oct. 8: vs. Ole Miss
Last season: Ole Miss won, 31-17. Ole Miss went 10-3.
The buzz: The good news is that this was one of Vanderbilt's most competitive SEC games last year and this year it's at home coming off an open week. The bad news is that the Rebels should be near the top of the SEC again.
The pick: Ole Miss wins, 35-20.
Oct. 15: at Georgia
Last season: Georgia won, 62-0. Georgia went 14-1.
The buzz: Last year's national champions gave Vanderbilt a historic beatdown in 2021. This year, the Bulldogs should be just as good — and this time, it's on the road.
The pick: Georgia wins, 58-7.
Oct. 22: at Missouri
Last season: Missouri won, 37-28. Missouri went 6-7.
The buzz: The Tigers are one of the worst teams in the SEC, but they are still far ahead of the Commodores and made a bowl last season.
The pick: Missouri wins, 33-27.
Nov. 5: vs. South Carolina
Last season: South Carolina won, 21-20. South Carolina went 7-6.
The buzz: If there's one game last season Vanderbilt would like back, it's almost certainly this one. This year, the Commodores get the Gamecocks at home and it may be their most winnable SEC game. South Carolina now has Spencer Rattler at quarterback, but the trenches could be a struggle.
The pick: South Carolina wins, 28-17.
Nov. 12: at Kentucky
Last season: Kentucky won, 34-17. Kentucky went 10-3.
The buzz: The Wildcats aren't the flashiest team in the world, but they're well-coached and rarely make mistakes. The Commodores will have to play perfect to win this one.
The pick: Kentucky wins, 27-14.
Nov. 19: vs. Florida
Last season: Florida won, 42-0. Florida went 6-7.
The buzz: The Gators have a new coach and a lot of new personnel, so they're a bit difficult to get a read on. But Vanderbilt hasn't beaten Florida since 2013.
The pick: Florida wins, 33-21.
Nov. 26: vs. Tennessee
Last season: Tennessee won, 45-21. Tennessee went 7-6.
The buzz: This series has been close in the past decade regardless of how good the respective teams have been. But this could be the Vols' best team in years, led by QB Hendon Hooker and a potent, up-tempo offense Vanderbilt could have difficulty stopping.
The pick: Tennessee wins, 38-24.
Aria Gerson covers Vanderbilt athletics for The Tennessean. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter @aria_gerson.