I've never seen Vanderbilt score.
Well, there was that time the Commodores marched into Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C., in 1999 and beat my-school-at-the-time Duke, 31-14. But scoring against the lowly Blue Devils in football doesn't really count.
Since I first stepped foot in this state, those smarter-than-we-are kids from Nashville have yet to put up any points against Tennessee.
In the three so-called "in-state rivalry games" I've watched, the Volunteers have won by a combined score, 110-0.
But that statistic doesn't seem to excite UT coach Phillip Fulmer.
"Vanderbilt is always a battle," the 13th-year coach said.
I wasn't actually present to hear Fulmer say this (my diligent staff writers informed me). However, the reason I didn't attend the coach's weekly press conference Tuesday is because I knew he would say something like that.
He always does.
Didn't he watch the tape of Vandy handing Kentucky its first SEC win of the season last Saturday?
I know I spared myself the boredom.
Apparently, he did, too.
"It starts with their quarterback," Fulmer said. "I have always been very impressed with Jay Cutler."
Okay, I'll give him that. Cutler is probably better than UT's current signal-caller, Rick Clausen.
But Cutler hasn't exactly been lighting up scoreboards across the SEC. Vandy scored six points at home to South Carolina earlier in the season and a whopping field goal at Georgia.
Many believe Vandy's drop-happy wide receivers are to blame for the lack of scoring. Fulmer, though, made VU's entire offense seem as deadly as the Philadelphia Eagles at the same press conference I chose not to attend.
"Our defense will have a challenge," Fulmer said. "They have a big, physical offensive line, fast running backs and wide receivers that make plays. It makes them hard to defend."
So to hard to defend, in fact, that this Vandy team has put up 100 combined points against seven conference opponents this season (that's over 14 points-per-contest). The 'Dores have even won a game (a 31-13 win at home to Mississippi State two weeks after the Bulldogs lost to Division I-AA Maine).
Even more frightening could be the up-to-1,000 black-and-gold clad fans at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday.
"It's a very important game for us for a lot of different reasons," Fulmer said.
Now let's be serious ... isn't there only one real reason this brutal grudge-match is significant?
It's called, "Securing a second chance to beat Auburn."
Okay, it's also healing time for Brent Schaeffer and Erik Ainge.
And while everyone waits for the return of one of the freshman sensations, hopefully I don't have to watch Vandy score for the first time in my life.
But if I do, I just pray it doesn't come off another interception.
- Matt Giles is the sports editor of The Daily Beacon and a senior in journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vandy not worthy of accolades
Published: Thu Nov 18, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 06:35 p.m.