Players and coaches on Vanderbilt’s football team insist they’re not focused on trying to get bowl-eligible. Even so, the bowls have not turned their attention from the Commodores.
Representatives from the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Captial One Bowl will be on hand Saturday when the Commodores host Florida (7 p.m., ESPN). It will be VU’s fourth attempt to get its all-important sixth victory, the minimum required for a team to participate in a bowl game.
“It seems like everyone wants to talk about that sixth win,” junior defensive back Darlron Spead said. “No, we’re not talking about six wins. We’re more concerned with winning every game one at a time. When the sixth win comes, it comes.”
Vanderbilt started the season with five straight victories but since has lost to Mississippi State (17-14), Georgia (24-14) and Duke (10-7).
“You can’t ignore it, but you don’t sit there and go, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got to win, we have to get six (victories),’” coach Bobby Johnson said. “You play every play, and you go from there.
“You can’t win your sixth game on the first play of the game. That’s not going to happen. So you just keep battling, keep battling, keep battling and see how it comes out.”
Vanderbilt has not played in a bowl game since 1982, when it lost to Air Force in the Hall of Fame Bowl at Birmingham. In 1974 it played in the Peach Bowl (now the Chick-fil-A Bowl) and in 1955 it won the Gator Bowl over Auburn.
This year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl will be played Dec. 7 and will match an SEC team against one from the ACC. The Capital One Bowl will be Jan. 1, 2009 and will have teams from the SEC and the Big Ten.
“We’re not oblivious to the situation, but we don’t want to just get six wins,” linebacker Chris Marve said. “We want to win every game we play. That’s our focus – winning each game and one game at a time.”