After suffering a season opening loss at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs, the Vanderbilt Commodores head to West Lafayette this Saturday in search of their first win.
It's a bit too early in a long season to call this a "must win" game for the Commodores, but it sure is big none the less.
A difficult schedule remains for the Commodores and if they are to reach bowl eligibility this season, this is the kind of game they need to win. It would be a huge lift to hopes of a post season bowl game when you have a road win over a Power 5 opponent.
The LSU Tigers follow Purdue on the Commodores schedule, and let's be honest, Vandy will be a decided underdog to the visitors from Baton Rouge so a loss to Purdue would make the prospects of an 0-3 start likely.
Florida also awaits on the schedule, but they will likely be a heavy favorite in "The Swamp" which leaves games versus Purdue, Northern Illinois, Ole Miss, UNLV, Missouri, South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee as winable contests.
Before you jump on me and say that Vanderbilt could win in "The Swamp," yes they certainly could, but being honest and logical the odds are against it.
What does all this mean?
Vanderbilt has eight games remaining where they might not be favored, but that would not be a surprise if they won even as a slight underdog. Every win is important but in the SEC nothing outside of Alabama is a safe bet so grabbing a win this Saturday against a Big-10 opponent would be a big step toward bowl eligibility.
It's too early to say "must win," but it sure is a big one and a chance to gain momentum ahead of the SEC portion of the schedule.