Dores stay perfect, exterminate Spiders 37-13

Jay Cutler: 262 yards, 3 TD (AP)

NASHVILLE-- Before a lively home crowd of 38,446, Vanderbilt defeated Richmond 37-13 Saturday and improved its record to 4-0. Jay Cutler threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns, while Cassen Jackson-Garrison rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown. The Commodores led 17-6 at halftime, but pulled away to a 31-6 lead in the third quarter on an 80-yard touchdown drive, and a 61-yard scoring run by Jackson-Garrison.

As the Commodores headed back to their dressing rooms, fresh off a solid 37-13 victory over Richmond on Saturday night, there was a chant raining down from the student section at Vanderbilt Stadium.

"Un-de-feat-ed, un-de-feat-ed," the calls came.

Yes, your Vanderbilt Commodores will head into October with an unblemished mark, and they face a winless opponent at Vanderbilt Stadium next Saturday.

"I heard someone say we're a football school," said fifth-year senior Moses Osemwegie. "That's exciting to hear."

It certainly appeared that way Saturday night as a near sell-out crowd at Vanderbilt Stadium watched the Commodores move to 4-0 for the first time since 1984.

"We had to earn this victory tonight," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. "This is a game we are supposed to win and we went out and won it, but Richmond played well."

The Commodores offensive machine kept humming along; gaining 513 total yards with quarterback Jay Cutler accounting for 277 of them. In the process, Cutler became the school's all-time total offense leader (6,769), passing former quarterback Greg Zolman.

With his three touchdown passes, Cutler also became the school's all-time leader in that category with 44, breaking a tie with Zolman and Whit Taylor.

"The records are fun, and I'm glad they are happening when we are winning," said Cutler, who was 28 for 40 with five dropped balls. "I've been at this school a long time. They are meaningful to me, especially with us being 4-0 right now."

The Commodores were far from perfect on this night, but the offense carried the day again, especially on third down (10-for-14), and Richmond simply could not keep pace.

After ending the first drive of the game with a punt, Vanderbilt went touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, and touchdown to build a 31-6 lead. From that point, it was a guessing game when backup quarterback Chris Nickson would replace Cutler, which happened on the final drive of the game.

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"We're clicking (on offense)," Cutler said. "Coach (Ted) Cain is doing a great job of getting game plans together and we're going out and executing. We're keeping teams off balance."

Vanderbilt's defense stayed consistent with its bend-but-don't-break philosophy of 2005, allowing Richmond a season-high 339 yards but only letting the Spiders to get into the end zone once.

"They gave us some problems defensively, but we played well when we had to," Johnson said.

Freshman Earl Bennett "arrived," according to Cutler, breaking out with 124 yards on 11 catches. Cassen Jackson-Garrison also broke the century mark with 119 yards on 11 carries, the bulk of which came on a 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

The 100-yard performances marked the second straight week VU had a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver, and it was a different rusher and receiver each week. Jeff Jennings and Erik Davis had the honors in the Ole Miss win.

But the bigger story on Saturday may have been the 38,446 that nearly filled Vanderbilt Stadium. The Commodores have struggled for years to put fans in the seats for non-conference games, and their Southeastern Conference games usually have a very strong visitor presence.

"It was fantastic to see a crowd like that," Johnson said. "I'm very pleased. They were into the game and they were loud. It helped us."

Will the Commodores get their heads stuck in black and gold clouds and overlook an MTSU team that beat them in 2001 and 2002?

"You can look at this game to keep us down on the ground," Johnson said of his team's ability to not look ahead. "We jumped offside on the goal line, we dropped some balls, we allowed them to break contain, we missed tackles, had too many penalties. There are a lot of things we can do to get better."

But after four games, you can't get any better than 4-0.

Bill Trocchi is the interactive editor for Athlon Sports.

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