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Austin Peay Governors vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Preview and Prediction

Johnny McCrary

Johnny McCrary

In 2013, Vanderbiltbeat Austin Peay 38-3. Since that time, the Governors have scored only one victory, a 20-13 home win over Murray State on Oct. 18 last year. Including two losses to start this season, Austin Peay is a whopping 1-25 since the start of the 2013 season. In fact, they haven't even had a winning record since going 7-4 in 2007.

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Vanderbilt has gotten off to a tough start. They were edged out by Western Kentucky in week one, 14-12, and fell to Georgia last Saturday, 31-14. But despite averaging only 13 points per game through the first two weeks, the Commodores have been pretty effective in moving the ball. 

Quarterback Johnny McCrary has already thrown for over 500 yards, with 295 of those coming against a solid Georgia defense. Additionally, Ralph Webb is a pretty efficient running back. If the Commodores can mend their red zone problems and quit turning the ball over, they might be able to pull off an upset or two this year. 

So far, nobody has seen anything worth complaining about from Vandy's defense, led by head coach Derek Mason. They gave up only 31 points to an elite Georgia offense. This could be the week the Commodores break through against a struggling Ohio Valley Conference team. 

Austin Peay at Vanderbilt

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: SEC Network Alternate

Spread: N/A

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Three Things to Watch

1. Do the Governors have an answer for McCrary?

Throwing for nearly 300 yards against Georgia was an impressive feat for McCrary, especially considering how bad Vanderbilt's passing attack was last year. Over the past couple seasons, Austin Peay has had no answer in the secondary. Last week, they gave up 275 yards through the air to Southern Miss, a team that maintains a pretty average quarterback situation, to say the least. This game could be an opportunity for McCrary to show off his skills against a lesser opponent.  

2. How many yards will Ralph Webb run for?

As bad as the Governors have been at covering receivers, their ability to stop the run is nearly nonexistent. Southern Miss pounded Austin Peay last week for 239 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, but that isn't even the worst performance of the season. In week one, Mercer rushed for 261 yards in a 28-7 win. Vanderbilt will be the Governors' biggest test thus far in stopping the run. The Commodores' top offensive playmaker, Ralph Webb, could have a field day. 

3. Will Austin Peay score?

This is the biggest question mark. Will the Governors even muster a field goal? It sounds simple, but in two weeks they have scored only a total of 13 points. Of course, Vanderbilt isn't an offensive powerhouse either, but they are looking fairly decent on the other side of the ball. Vandy has to like the way things are looking defensively through the first two weeks, and they will only continue to get better. Austin Peay is going to have a difficult time moving the football in this game.

Final Analysis

While I picked Georgia to manhandle Vanderbilt last week, I said that I still believe they are going to improve throughout the season. They looked better last week than they did against Western Kentucky, despite a 17-point loss to the Bulldogs, so I wasn't particularly surprised that Georgia didn't run away. The Commodores are getting to the point where they can at least move the ball. They just need to quit giving it away. Austin Peay, honestly, is not a very good football team. Their record over the past few years proves it. Unless the Governors play a perfect game and Vanderbilt falls on their face, this game will be over by halftime. Really, Vandy won't screw this one up.

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Prediction: Vanderbilt 41, Austin Peay 0

— Written by Cody McClure, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a radio host and lead SEC Writer for Three Point Stance Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @CodyMcClureCFB.