Vanderbilt only SEC team without a bye

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

When you start breaking down who has the easiest and who has the toughest schedules in the SEC, a big part of that picture revolves around the byes.

In other words, if you're going into a key road trip after playing eight straight weeks, that's a huge disadvantage.

Along those lines, I wouldn't call Vanderbilt's schedule the toughest in the league this season. Arkansas and Georgia are fighting it out for that distinction (or burden).

But the Commodores do have one thing working against them that no other team in the league does. They don't have a bye.

That's right, they play for 12 straight weeks without a break after opening the season at home against Western Carolina on Sept. 5. They end the season earlier than everybody else in the league when they travel to Tennessee on Nov. 21.

That's a meaningless week off, though. Players need down time and recovery time during the middle of the season.

And when depth is an issue, which it historically has been at Vanderbilt, playing 12 straight weeks without a bye in the SEC is a real killer.

Even last season when the Commodores had two byes, they sort of ran out of gas toward the end of the regular season when some of the injuries began to mount.

Arkansas, Kentucky and Ole Miss also have difficult stretches this season. Their byes are the second week of the season, which requires them to play the last 11 weeks without a break.

South Carolina's bye is the third week in November, meaning the Gamecocks will play 11 straight weeks to open the season without a break.

That's also not a good omen for a team that has struggled to close the season each of the past two years. The Gamecocks lost their last three games last season. And in 2007, they lost their last five.