Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit

Vandy tries to top No. 2 Alabama for first time since 1984

  • Updated
  • 0
NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Alabama

Sep 17, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban talks to quarterback Bryce Young (9) during the second half against the UL Monroe Warhawks at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea was on the verge of his third birthday, Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" was the top song on the Billboard charts, and the first episode of the daily syndicated version of "Jeopardy!" had just premiered.

It was September 1984. And it was also the last time Vanderbilt beat Alabama.

The Crimson Tide roll out the welcome mat for the Commodores on Saturday afternoon as No. 2 Alabama aims for a 4-0 start and 23rd consecutive win over Vandy -- one of five FBS teams with two road wins this season.

Of course, Alabama coach Nick Saban wasn't interested in discussing the Crimson Tide's (3-0) previous wins this season. He's pushing for his team to be laser-focused on the task at hand.

"It's an SEC game. Vanderbilt's 3-1," Saban said. "Much, much improved team over last year. They have like 14 starters back, but they're scoring 42 points a game and they play two quarterbacks. Both of them are very, very capable. Very good athletes. ... This is a good all-around team, and it's going to be a challenging game for us."

Rolling into Alabama and leaving happy is a steep climb for any team, but perhaps even a taller ask for freshman quarterback AJ Swann. In what will be just his second career start -- the first was last week at Northern Illinois -- Swann does have momentum in his favor. He finished 18-of-28 passing for 255 passing yards while becoming the first SEC true freshman quarterback to throw for at least four touchdowns in their first career start since 2002.

"There's no stage too big (for Swann)," Lea said Tuesday. "He's shown it from the day he set foot on campus, the first practice, the first workout. He's going to learn a lot and he's going to have to grow a lot and there's going to be mistakes made, because anytime you're playing a freshman ... you're expected to learn on the move. But I'm excited for him. I know he's excited to be the starting quarterback here."

Vanderbilt beat Elon, edged NIU in a tight game last week on the road, and opened the season with a victory at Hawaii. Those aren't pelts Saban or most SEC coaches would display, but the Commodores have been no better than 6-7 since James Franklin left in 2013. Lea went 0-8 in the SEC last season and Vandy has one league win in its last 24 chances over three seasons (2019-2021).

"I think he's changed the whole culture of the program. Their players play really hard. They play with confidence," Saban said of Lea, who has never coached against Alabama. "I think they believe in what they're doing offensively, defensively, special teams, and culture is the biggest thing you try to establish in the program."

For the sake of comparison, Alabama is 25-3 against SEC foes the past three seasons and Saban is dealing from a position of decided strength on Saturday because of the program's top-end talent and depth.

Of note for Vandy, the offense has been sparkling in the red zone with scores on all 17 trips this season. That includes 15 touchdowns.

The Crimson Tide have worked on more up-tempo offense this week and Saban wouldn't tip his hand, but didn't downplay the edge Alabama gains when it runs at fastbreak tempo.

Saban is 18-2 in SEC home openers at Alabama.

--Field Level Media

0 Comments

Originally published on fieldlevelmedia.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Eden Hazard has made sure Real Madrid didn’t miss the injured Karim Benzema. Hazard scored a goal and set up two others after replacing Benzema as Madrid began the defense of its Champions League title with a comfortable 3-0 win at Celtic. Vinícius Júnior and Luka Modric also scored second-half goals for the defending champions at Celtic Park. Benzema had to be substituted in the 30th minute with an apparent knee injury. Benzema started limping and put his hand on his right knee before asking to be replaced and slowly walking off the field. Hazard came in and was involved in the first two Madrid goals before scoring himself.

Scottish soccer giant Rangers is back in the Champions League after a 12-year absence during which the club went out of business because of a financial crisis. Rangers is one of Europe's most storied clubs and has a record 55 national league titles. The Glasgow team has gone through a bruising decade after starting afresh at the bottom of Scotland’s soccer pyramid 10 years ago. Rangers has recovered to win the Scottish league in 2021, reach the Europa League final in May, and now get through the Champions League qualifying rounds. Former U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra played for Rangers during its turbulent times and tells The Associated Press it's great the team is back in Europe's elite.

France striker Karim Benzema was substituted with an apparent knee injury in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win against Celtic in the group stage of the Champions League. Benzema started limping and put his hand on his right knee before asking to be replaced in the 30th minute. He put his hand on his face as he slowly walked off the field. Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said after the match he was optimistic about Benzema’s injury. Benzema is coming off his best season ever, when he was the leading scorer both in the Champions League and the Spanish league. He scored 15 goals in the Champions League alone.

The stage in golf belongs to the European tour this week and it could get feisty. The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth is the flagship event for the European tour. The field is strong with such players as Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick. It also includes 18 players who have signed with Saudi-funded LIV Golf and have played at least two of the lucrative events. McIlroy has said it turns his stomach to have to see the LIV players. Lee Westwood argues he has supported the European tour more than McIlroy. The LPGA stays in Ohio for a new event in Cincinnati.

Recommended for you