Monday, October 22, 2007

Vanderbilt's upset not surprising to players, coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The euphoria of Saturday's 17-6 victory at South Carolina was still evident Sunday at Vanderbilt.

The previously sixth-ranked Gamecocks were the highest-rated team the Commodores have defeated since upsetting No. 6 LSU 70 years ago.

Saturday's victory had Vanderbilt coaches, players and media-relations personnel scouring the record books in search of historical perspective.

``When I saw 1937, I was like, 'Wow,''' wide receiver George Smith said. ``It's one of those strides you make for the program, and I'm just glad I was able to be part of it.''

Vanderbilt has never defeated a team ranked higher than No. 6, and Saturday's win was its first ever on the road against a top 10 opponent. Prior to Saturday, the Commodores' last win over a top 10 team was over No. 8 Auburn in the 1955 Gator Bowl.

Vanderbilt's last regular season win over a top 10 opponent came against No. 8 Florida in 1974.

``You really don't come across opportunities like that,'' Smith said. ``To beat a highly ranked team, it's definitely enjoyable.''

Saturday's win marked Vanderbilt's fourth on the road in its past 10 Southeastern Conference games, a run unequaled by the Commodores since 1949-51.

``There's definitely a sense of accomplishment, but I don't think anyone is really surprised,'' safety Ryan Hamilton said. ``We all went into the game expecting to win. We know we're good enough to beat anybody we play.''

Vanderbilt's defense, ranked No. 19 nationally this week, limited South Carolina to 280 yards of total offense and held a Southeastern Conference opponent without a touchdown for the first time since 1992.

The Gamecocks converted only one of 12 third-down opportunities, largely due to Vanderbilt's blitzing defense, which tied a single-game school record with seven sacks.

Vanderbilt is currently allowing an average of 310 yards per game, on pace to be the school's lowest mark in 10 years.

Coach Bobby Johnson said their aggressive defense was the difference after the Commodores built an early 17-0 lead.

``It kept South Carolina sort of off balance, and we never let them get into a rhythm,'' he said. ``In the second half, they tried to come back, and I think our guys stepped up and said, 'We're going to have something to say about it.'''

Source:; Photo Credit: SEC Sports