Warning:Those watching may suffer from increased heart rate, heavy breathing, high anxiety and violent emotional swings.
Last year, these were all symptoms for those exposed to the heavyweight bout staged at Vanderbilt Stadium between Georgia and Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs held on for a wild 33-28 victory after leading 20-7 at intermission.
Ready for round two?
The opening bell will toll at 6:45 p.m. CT Saturday (ESPN2) at Sanford Stadium where the Commodores (1-2) and fifth-ranked Bulldogs (3-0) will meet again for the first time after one of the more entertaining games of the 2011 college football season.
Last year's game was an absolute roller coaster and in the end everyone was exhausted, including those watching on the couch.
The heavily-favored Bulldogs kept landing haymakers, but the Commodores kept getting back up off the mat. Vanderbilt rallied from double-digit deficits on four occasions to pull within single digits, and did so with a bevy of did-they-just-do-that moments.
Vanderbilt reached into its bag of tricks and came up with a fake punt from its own 22-yard line, a halfback pass for a touchdown and an onside kick. Vanderbilt also returned a kickoff for a touchdown and blocked a punt that was nearly picked up and returned for a game-winning touchdown.
The back-and-forth excitement was matched by the physicality. Words were exchanged during the game as neither team backed down from the aggressiveness. In the end, the emotions boiled over after the final whistle as the two teams faced one another and jawed back and forth before being separated by the coaching staffs.
Not quite a year has passed since that memorable game, but Commodores are ready to move on, and Coach James Franklin doesn't expect there to be carryover from last year's meeting.
"I think everybody else is going to talk about it, but I know Coach (Mark) Richt is going to focus on just going out and playing the game and competing and the fundamentals and the Xs and Os, and that is what we are going to do.
"Was it an emotional, passionate game, and was it a great game last year on the field? Yeah, it was. But we are going to go out there and do what we do every single week and play with passion and try to execute and focus on the game."
One of the more vivid scenes from last year's meeting was Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham trading words after the game. On Monday, Franklin joked about vacationing with Grantham this summer, but followed it up by praising him for his coaching.
"Actually this summer our families went on vacation," Franklin joked. "We went on vacation: Disney World. We were floating in the pool together drinking mai tais.
"The guy does a good job and has done a good job for a long time. His defense plays hard; they fly around. They are passionate about what they do. We are passionate about what we do. It's not anything more than that, and we are excited to go play the game. I do have respect for how his team plays and how his defense plays and how they fly around."
No one knows how this year's meeting will play out, but consider yourself warned as a spectator should another heart-stopping game ensue.
As is the case with every position, no player has been assured a starting spot for the team's next game, including at quarterback. Against Presbyterian, quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels made his Vanderbilt debut after transferring from Wyoming where he was Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year. Incumbent starter Jordan Rodgers got the nod the first two games of the season. And on Monday, Franklin did not name either one as the starter.
"Like we try to do every week when we go over the travel roster on Thursday - based on how guys have played and how guys have practiced that week and approached it - we will have a pretty good idea by Thursday and maybe Wednesday night," Franklin said. "As soon as we've decided for sure, I'll let you know."
Carta-Samuels is listed as the starting quarterback on the depth chart, but based on past history, the depth chart is very fluid. Take last week for example when Rodgers was listed as the starter.
Should Carta-Samuels get the starting nod on Saturday, it will be his first SEC game on the road, but it will be far from his first road game in college football.
As a freshman at Wyoming, Carta-Samuels started games at BYU, TCU and Texas. He also played home games against Boise State and Utah. Four of the five games were against teams ranked in the top 11.
"It's not like this guy hasn't played college football before," Franklin said. "Is the SEC a little different? Yeah, we all know that. I would say it is just a little bit different. The fact that he has played against Texas and Boise and people like that before, he's played in some pretty good environments. Doing it here, doing it in the SEC and doing it consistently week in and week out, that's still to be determined."
Sizing Them Up
Georgia sports one of the nation's biggest defensive lines. The size suits Georgia's 3-4 defensive alignment well with 6-foot-3, 358-pound nose tackle John Jenkins hogging the middle and 6-foot-3, 308-pound defensive end Abry Jones lining up beside him. Toss in 6-foot-4, 268-pound defensive end Cornelius Washington on the other side of Jenkins, and Vanderbilt know it will be in for a challenge up front.
"They are very good up front," center Joe Townsend said. "We just have to play hard and execute. We have to play together as an offensive line. Obviously, a 350-pound guy is not going to be very easy to move, but it's going to be a great challenge for us and I'm looking forward to it. I'm ready to get better this week."
Georgia's defensive line will be a handful, as will be its linebacking corps, led by junior Jarvis Jones, a preseason All-America candidate. Jones sat out last week's game due to a groin injury, but is expected to return Saturday.
"You'd better have a plan for him and be aware of where he is on the field," Franklin said.
How much credence is there in national statistical rankings after just three weeks? Probably not a great deal, but, nevertheless, the rankings are very favorable for the Commodores' defense so far.
The unit ranks 11th nationally in total defense, surrendering just 248.33 yards per game. Vanderbilt's scoring defense ranked 16th, allowing 13.33 points per outing.
Vanderbilt's numbers against the pass have been especially strong. The Commodores rank third in overall pass defense (100.67) and fourth in pass efficiency defense (82.59). Both numbers are also the best in the SEC. Vanderbilt's defense has also been aided by an ability to make stops in the backfield. As a unit, the team ranks 23rd nationally in tackles for loss (7.67).
"The stats early on in the year can be deceiving," Franklin said. "I think we are doing a nice job, but we are going to be challenged I think for the first time this year by probably the best team we've seen so far in terms of passing game and in terms of playmakers at the wide receiver position. And that is no disrespect to anybody else who we played."
Behind junior quarterback Aaron Murray, the Bulldogs lead the league in total offense, averaging 517.67 yards per game. "We've got a real veteran quarterback, who does a great job in terms of managing the game and is extremely accurate and can make plays with his feet," Franklin said.
Vanderbilt also has a few high marks on special teams. Richard Kent and the punt unit rank 28th in net punting (39.73). The Commodores also rank 26th in kickoff returns (25.60).
Vanderbilt vs. Top 10 Foes
Following Saturday's win against Florida Atlantic, Georgia moved up from No. 7 to No. 5 in the AP rankings. You have to go back to 2008 to find the last time Vanderbilt defeated a ranked opponent, and the Commodores did it twice, knocking off No. 24 South Carolina and then No. 13 Auburn. Both wins came at home.
The last ranked opponent the Commodores defeated on the road came in 2007 at No. 6 South Carolina. The win tied for the highest-ranked opponent Vanderbilt has ever defeated. The Commodores also beat No. 6 LSU in Nashville in 1937.
The Commodores' last win against Georgia came in Athens in 2006 when kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt knocked in a game-winning 33-yard field goal to beat the 16th-ranked Bulldogs, 24-22.
Stacy Climbing Career Rushing List
Following his 174-yard game against Presbyterian on Saturday, running back Zac Stacy climbed all the way to third in school history with 2,260 career rushing yards. Ahead of Stacy are Carl Woods (2,490 yards) and Frank Mordica (2,632 yards).
Stacy is also fourth in school history with 21 career rushing touchdowns. He needs six more touchdowns to pass Dean Davidson (1947-50) for the school record. Stacy's next touchdown carry will tie him with Charley Horton for third.