Despite reaching its highest ranking in more than a half-century, unbeaten Vanderbilt still feels it might not be getting the respect it deserves.
The 13th-ranked Commodores will continue trying to change that on Saturday when they go for their best start in 80 years - and the best SEC start in school history - as they visit last-place Mississippi State.
Vanderbilt (5-0, 3-0) broke into the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1984 on Sept. 21, and matched its highest ranking since Oct. 13, 1956, following a 14-13 home win over then-No. 13 Auburn last Saturday.
The Commodores improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1943 - a five-game season due to World War II. They haven't opened 6-0 since the 1928 season, and they have never opened their SEC schedule 4-0.
"People can think what they want to think," linebacker Chris Marve said. "We just want to show the country we're a different Vanderbilt."
The Commodores defense has allowed an average of 333.0 yards this season, but gave up a season-low 208 to Auburn while ending a 13-game losing streak in that series.
A victory at Mississippi State (1-4, 0-2) on Saturday will give Vanderbilt the longest SEC winning streak in school history.
"A lot of these teams think they're way better than us," Commodores wide receiver George Smith said. "But we're proving that we can play with them."
Smith returned from a stress fracture to make two catches for 21 yards in his first game of the season, rejoining a Vanderbilt offense that has averaged 26.6 points and 278.8 yards - the fewest in the SEC.
Last weekend, quarterback Chris Nickson aggravated a right shoulder injury from a Sept. 20 win at Mississippi, but Mackenzi Adams stepped in and completed 13 of 23 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns. The yardage and scoring totals were the highest for either quarterback this season.
Nickson's status for this weekend is unclear, but Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson knows either player can handle the responsibilities under center.
"We have guys who are ready to play and we have two that have played effectively and we have two others who are ready when we need them," Johnson said.
Vanderbilt's five-game winning streak is its longest since winning five in a row during its last winning season in 1982. The team now tries to make it six straight wins for the first time since 1955.
The Commodores are 7-10-2 all-time against Mississippi State, but ended a three-game losing streak in the series with a 31-13 home victory on Oct. 2, 2004 in the most recent matchup.
While Vanderbilt is facing a Bulldogs team that's been struggling this season, Johnson is confident his team won't overlook its opponent.
"We're going to have to work hard to get ready, but I think our guys will be ready to do that," Johnson said. "They've got great attitudes right now and I think they're handling everything the right way."
Mississippi State, coming off a bye week, is trying to halt a three-game slide that includes a 34-24 defeat at then-No. 5 LSU on Sept. 27.
Freshman quarterback Tyson Lee finished 17-of-26 for 175 yards and one touchdown in his first start.
The Bulldogs will be trying to avoid losing three consecutive conference games in a single season for the first time since a five-game skid in 2006.
"We have a couple of games left to play," Bulldogs linebacker Dominic Douglas said. "We have to keep building and building and hopefully come up with a win."
Mississippi State, which has split two games at Scott Field thus far, has won six of seven against Vanderbilt at home, winning the last five matchups there since 1971.