Bold Prediction: Alabama’s First Ranked SEC Opponent in 2022 will be Vanderbilt

“We know in time Vanderbilt football will be the best program in the country.”

This is a quote from head coach Clark Lea on July 19 at SEC Media Days. There is some excitement swirling around Nashville with Vanderbilt traveling to Hawaii and scoring a big 63-10 win last week.

Yes, Hawaii is limping in from the horrific Todd Graham era, but this win was impressive nonetheless. The last time Vanderbilt scored 60 points was in 1969 when it played Davidson. The fact that Vanderbilt scored 60-plus points against anyone on the gridiron is a step in the right direction.

As Lea did at SEC Media Days, we have a bold prediction about the Commodores — maybe not as bold. This one involves the final contest of September as Vanderbilt travels to Tuscaloosa to take on No. 1 Alabama.

Vanderbilt and Alabama will be a matchup of ranked teams

We can all agree without a shadow of a doubt, and with the greatest certainty that Alabama is going to come into the Sept. 24 contest ranked. The doubt will be with the Commodores — that is until you look at their schedule.

Their next three games are not a walk-through of cupcakes, but it isn’t a gauntlet either. The next three weeks for Vanderbilt will feature contests against FCS Elon, No. 22 Wake Forest, and reigning MAC champion Northern Illinois.

With seeing how Vanderbilt performed last Saturday, it will not be losing to an FCS team again this season. The big advantage it has over Elon is that Vanderbilt has played a game to tune up already while the Phoenix have not.

It’s hard not to love what head coach Dave Clawson has done at Wake Forest, but it will likely be without star quarterback Sam Hartman when they play the Commodores. Hartman’s absence and the fact that this one is in Nashville gives the advantage to Vanderbilt.

The question becomes whether Vanderbilt can get past the reigning MAC champions. The Huskies split a pair of contests against Power 5 teams last season. Northern Illinois edged Georgia Tech and was throttled by Michigan in 2021. It will get Vandy in DeKalb.

College GameDay might not be in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 24, but don’t be surprised when both the Commodores and Crimson Tide have a number next to their names.

Featured image courtesy of Vanderbilt athletics