Back on June 12, I took the plunge and predicted that Vanderbilt's football team would return to a bowl game this season for the first time since 1982. The upset of South Carolina last Saturday was just the jolt they needed to keep that dream alive.
After going 3-1 to start the season, the Commodores lost back-to-back games to Auburn and Georgia. True, Auburn and Georgia aren't slouches, but the team definitely looked like it was beginning to fade.
However, the win at South Carolina puts them back on track to reach this goal.
Five games remain, and they need two more wins to become bowl eligible. A team has to have six wins to qualify for a bowl. Where will those wins come from? The schedule is challenging the rest of the way.
Win number five should come this week against Miami of Ohio. After that, Vandy plays at Florida, Kentucky at home, at Tennessee, and Wake Forest at home. Assuming a win this week, they will have to win one of those final four games.
Of course, Kentucky is much better than expected this year and playing at Florida is always a grind. Vandy won at Tennessee in 2005 so that is a possibility, while Wake Forest is having a solid season following last year's ACC championship and trip to the Orange Bowl.
The bottom line is if Vandy wants to go to a bowl, then they will have to earn it.
There are no cupcakes down the stretch.