HOOVER | Vanderbilt comes into the 2013 season with more momentum than at any time in almost 100 years.
The Commodores went 9-4 last season, finishing with seven straight victories capped by a victory over North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl.
"Before we arrived Vanderbilt had been to four bowl games in 122 years," head coach James Franklin said. "We've been to two in the last two years."
Vanderbilt hasn't won nine games in a season since 1915, so Franklin is in uncharted territory in the modern era. He doesn't want to rest on those accomplishments.
"Those things are all things in the past," Franklin said. "Our focus is on where we're going now.
"Probably our biggest challenging is handling success."
Vanderbilt returns eight starters on offense, led by tackle Wesley Johnson and wideout Jordan Matthews. Austin Carta-Samuels, a transfer from Wyoming entering his third season in the Vanderbilt program, is the likely starter at quarterback, although Franklin said he doesn't believe in naming starters at any position until a couple of weeks of fall practice.
The defense returns six starters, including cornerback Andre Hal. Also back is kicker Carey Spear, who was 14-of-14 on kicks inside 44 yards with two made field goals of longer than 50 yards last season.
The Commodores will open the season with a nationally-televised Thursday night conference game against Ole Miss.
"I think it's great for college football," Franklin said. "I think it's great for the SEC. I know it's great for Vanderbilt."
Vanderbilt's out-of-conference slate isn't too ambitious. The Commodores host Austin Peay, UAB and Wake Forest, and visit Massachusetts. In addition to its divisional opponents in the SEC East, Vandy plays Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
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Deal ends 08.31.13