Preview: Georgia Tech at Vanderbilt – Oct. 31 (7:30 PM)

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

7-1 overall, 5-1 ACC

Coming off their first win in Charlottesville since 1990, the No. 11 Jackets travel to Nashville, Tenn. this Saturday to face the Vanderbilt Commodores. Tech and Vanderbilt will battle it out this weekend for the 37th time since their initial meeting in 1892. The Jackets currently lead the series with a record of 18-15-3, including victories in the last four games.

Tech’s 34-9 victory against Virginia, as well Miami’s in-conference loss to Clemson, placed the Jackets at the top of the Coastal Division with a 5-1 record in the ACC. With a berth in the conference championship game and a possible BCS bid emerging as possibilities if the Jackets can win their remaining games, they will attempt to improve their overall record to 8-1 against the second of their three SEC opponents this season.

Against Virginia, the triple option proved effective against the Cavaliers’ 3-4 defensive front as the Tech offense, which now leads the nation in total rushing yards, racked up 362 yards on the ground. Tech’s offense controlled the clock throughout, wearing down Virginia’s defense as it controlled the ball for 42 minutes and 43 seconds, the team’s longest mark in time of possession in more than 20 years.

The defense allowed the Cavaliers to convert just two of 11 third downs and held them to only 198 total yards, including just 30 rushing yards. The unit has shown improvement since allowing 44 points at Florida State, adapting to changes in the defensive scheme and overcoming injuries to hold Virginia Tech and Virginia in check over the past two weeks.

The Jackets will now face the 2-6 Commodores at Dudley Field on Halloween. Tech will look to exploit a Vanderbilt defense that has allowed the second-most rushing yards of any SEC team this season, and the inside running game could be key against a defense that features speed but lacks size.

Vanderbilt Commodores

2-6 overall, 0-5 SEC

Tech and Vanderbilt battle it out this weekend for the 37th time since their initial meeting in 1892. The Jackets currently lead the series with a record of 18-15-3, including victories in the last four games.

Last year Vanderbilt was able to defeat formidable opponents like South Carolina, Ole Miss and Auburn during their season-opening five-game winning streak. The Commodores stumbled in the second half but picked up a single win; at 6-6, they became bowl eligible for the first time in 26 years and defeated Boston College in the Music City Bowl.

In 2009, though, the Commodores have struggled to build on last season’s success. They currently hold an overall record of 2-7 and their two wins come against teams, Rice and Western Carolina, with a combined 1-14 record. Coach Bobby Johnson’s team is 0-5 in its conference and has failed to score more than 10 points in an SEC matchup.

Last Saturday’s game against No. 24 South Carolina resulted in a disappointing 14-10 loss for the Commodores, who came close to pulling off the upset. Statistically, the two teams were fairly even in several offensive categories. Vanderbilt running back Warren Norman amassed 186 all-purpose yards and, with a 99-yard kickoff return, scored the visiting team’s only touchdown of the day. The Commodores led 10-7 until South Carolina scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to win the game.

Vanderbilt faced Army’s triple option-based offense in early Oct., but the Black Knights upset the Commodores 16-13 at West Point. Against a more talented Jackets squad, Vanderbilt will need to contain Tech’s offense at the edges and hope Norman can produce on the ground.