Commodores looking for 9th straight Nov. win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Vanderbilt Commodores have a chance to finish off a perfect November for a second straight year, and coach James Franklin is dismissing any possibility of a letdown after their biggest win yet over their in-state rival.

The Commodores insist they're focused only on Wake Forest.

Vanderbilt is coming off a 14-10 win over Tennessee 14-10 in Knoxville. Franklin said Monday the Commodores keep their approach the same as every other week will avoid any letdown after a win even the coach called a big accomplishment.

"We don't talk about those things inside our building," Franklin said. "This for us is the Super Bowl. It is the most important game of the season? Why? You guys can answer that question. Because it's the next game."

The process certainly has worked.

A win Saturday would be Vanderbilt's second straight 8-4 record for eight wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1927 and 1928. Vanderbilt also is 14-4 over its last 18 games with only Alabama posting a better record in the Southeastern Conference in that span.

The Commodores have been even better in November winning eight straight in the month — 9-2 in November overall under Franklin.

"We take a great sense of pride in playing well late in the year," defensive end Walker May said.

Beating Tennessee in Knoxville was such a big game that Franklin had 98 texts of congratulations waiting for him afterward. Once he waded through those, then he checked Twitter where Vanderbilt fans were tweeting away in celebration.

The Commodores needed a 92-yard drive for the winning touchdown to beat Tennessee to overcome a game in which they had a season-high four turnovers. Defensively, they held Tennessee to its fewest points scored in this rivalry since 1968, which helped senior linebacker Chase Garnham earn honors Monday as the SEC's defensive player of the week.

Vanderbilt will have plenty of emotion Saturday with 20 seniors celebrating their final home game as they wrap up against Wake Forest (4-7). This is the first group of seniors to play in three straight bowls at Vanderbilt having helped carry the Commodores out of the SEC's cellar to a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Division.

Franklin credited this class with 13 starters for having a huge impact.

"Those guys have a really unique perspective because they were here in some of the slim years and now they are reaping the rewards of their hard work and success," Franklin said. "I think they do a great job of giving the young guys perspective on facilities, on the past and be appreciative of what is going on. I think that is an interesting perspective that we need on our team."

What these seniors have learned the most is how to follow Franklin's example at a program that was 2-10 in 2010 before the coach arrived.

Jordan Matthews is four catches from becoming the first receiver in SEC history with 100 receptions in a single season. He already has the league's records for career catches and yards receiving. But Matthews said he just plans to go out and play football Saturday.

"I know we have a game to play against Wake Forest, and my goal is going to be to help the team win," Matthews said. "That stuff may hit me later on, but now I don't dwell on it."

May said the seniors will focus on their accomplishments once the season is over because the only thing they're focused on is trying to beat Wake Forest.

"Everything else can wait," May said.