Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Forget the SEC, Vanderbilt's football team would dominate the MAC and the Sun Belt

If there was any doubt that Vanderbilt’s in the toughest conference in America – at least, the last place it could hope to obtain a winning record – check out the preseason rankings for all 120 college football teams by The Quad Blog, the New York Times’ excellent college sports blog.

The Quad pegs Vandy at No. 65, way up from the No. 93 it gave the Dores this time last year. So let’s pretend for a moment that Vandy would beat all the teams ranked below it and lose to all the teams above it. So what will our record be in 2009? According to The Quad, Vandy should beat Miss State, Rice and Army. Assuming the Dores also beat Western Carolina, they should finish 4-8.

Of course, according to this same logic we should have finished 2-10 or maybe 3-9 last season. But it’s tough playing in such a touch conference.

Which has us wondering: In which conference would Vanderbilt have the most victories?

Vandy would have the upper hand over a whopping eleven teams: Temple (74), Buffalo (78), N Illinois (80), Ohio (82), Ball State (85), Bowling Green (86), Toledo (88), Akron (93), Miami-Oho (101), Kent State (109), Eastern Mich (113)

Instead of LSU, what if Vanderbilt got to play L-Monroe? Or L-Lafayette? Or any of the teams in the Sun Belt, of which Vandy is better than at least eight: Fla Atlantic (77), Ark State (87), MTSU (91), Fla International (97), La-Monroe (108), La-Lafayette (110), N Texas (116), W Kentucky (120)

Vanderbilt looks better on paper than at least eight teams, and one of them is Rice, which we play in the fourth game of the season: Memphis (75), UTEP (83), Rice (92), UAB (95), Central Fla (98), Marshall (100), SMU (102), Tulane (107)

A smallish conference, with at least six teams Vanderbilt would likely handle: La Tech (67), Hawaii (71), San Jose St (90), Utah State (115), New Mexico St (118), Idaho (119)

OK, the Dores would struggle against the likes of BYU and Utah, but could probably overpower at least five teams: Colorado St (73), UNLV (84), San Diego St (104), New Mexico (106), Wyoming (111)

Sure, Wake Forest, a small private school that found success in a big-time conference, is a role model for Vandy. But the Demon Deacs can hang with at least a handful of conference teams year in and year out. This year, they’d be one the Commodores could beat (and Duke’s a team we should have beat last year): Maryland (66), Wake Forest (69), Virginia (81), Duke (96)

7. BIG 12
Sure, we’re not scheduling Texas or Oklahoma any time soon, but we could probably beat at least four teams in the Big 12: K-State (70), Texas A&M (72), Baylor (79), Iowa State (112)

We could handle at least three Big East teams, and could compete against a whole lot more: UConn (68), Louisville (76), Syracuse (103)

9. BIG 10
The Quad has us way ahead of two Big 10 teams: Purdue (94), Indiana (105)

10. PAC-10
Thank God for the state of Washington. But I’d bet we could take at least two other teams in the Pac-10: Washington (99), Wash State (114)

11. SEC
Here’s a big surprise: The SEC is the toughest conference for us to play in. Supposedly, we could beat only Miss State (89). Of course, we lost to the Bulldogs last season. Of course, we beat four conference teams we weren’t supposed to beat.

Am I suggesting we should change conferences? No freaking way. I love the fact that on paper we’re not supposed to beat anybody. Because when we beat them, we feel great and those other teams – like, say, South Carolina and Auburn – feel awful.

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