It’s time to put up or shut up for Vanderbilt when the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide roll into Nashville with a 21-game winning streak against the Commodores. The SEC match-up is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. EST and can be seen on CBS. Heading into this conference showdown, the Tide are -18.5 point favorites. As of now, the game’s over/under is at a paltry 43.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are heading into Vanderbilt Stadium fresh off a 41-23 home win over Colorado State. In that game, Alabama went up 17 points in the first quarter, then played the Rams even for the rest of the day. Jalen Hurts looked especially crisp early on, before toning it down in the second frame.
The Vanderbilt Commodores dig in after a 14-7 win over the Kansas State Wildcats. The non-conference battle witnessed neither offense tallying over 300 yards. As a result, the two defenses had their way, but the Commodores had enough in their tank to get the job done. These teams last met in 2011 and it was on Alabama’s home turf. The Tide won that contest decisively in a shut-out, 34-0.
(1) Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0)
The Crimson Tide are once again ranked atop the college football world. Unfortunately for Alabama fans, the Tide have sort of looked a little average so far. They haven’t allowed that many points but more than the defense is accustomed to. Case in point: against the Colorado State Rams, the Tide were up 41-10 at one point, but allowed the Rams to close it to 41-23 by game’s end.
The offense did its part to get the win at home last Saturday. The unit put up almost 500 total yards and 239 of them came via the ground. Quarterback Jalen hurts did most of the work, throwing for almost 250 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, he also was the Tide’s leading rusher, scampering for another 103 and a score. He also brought a balance to the offense all by himself last weekend.
Tailback Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris were average at best. Together, the duo combined for just under 120 yards and two more touchdowns. Honestly, they didn’t need to do all that much with Jalen Hurts continually finding openings in the Rams’ defensive front. That won’t be the case in Nashville, so a better performance will be expected from head coach Nick Saban.
At first, it appeared that wide receiver Calvin Ridley was going to finally have that breakout performance we all have been waiting for. By half-time, he had already caught a touchdown and racked up 80 percent of his 93 total yards. Unfortunately for him, the Tide were dominating the contest at that point and chose to run the football to put the game away.
Colorado State was able to put up just under 400 yards of total offense against the Tide’s vaunted defense. Including 144 yards on the ground, which is a bit of a shock as they were first in the nation in run defense last year (63.9 ypg). The good news for them is that the Commodores are an offensively challenged club. Overall, Alabama is 39th in the nation in total yards allowed.
Vanderbilt Commodores (3-0)
The Vanderbilt Commodores will not win many contests with their offense, although it is improved over last year. Even still, the unit still managed to not reach 300 total yards against the Wildcats. Obviously, the Commodores need to find some ways to move the chains against the Crimson Tide.
Actually, quarterback Kyle Shurmur has been all that the coaches could hope for and more. Heading into this home game, he has completed 71 percent of his throws for just over 700 yards. More importantly, the steady signal-caller has connected for eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He has to keep that streak going, as Alabama will capitalize on his mistakes.
The real issue with the Vanderbilt offense is they have really struggled to run the ball and keep opposing defenses guessing. Things won’t be getting any easier when they face the Tide’s front seven. Luckily, there have been some injury issues so maybe running back Ralph Webb can find some room to run. This year that hasn’t been the case as he has toted the rock for only 149 yards and two scores.
The Commodores’ receiving corps has come out of the gate strong in 2017. Even though the rushing attack isn’t helping much, their numbers are still pretty good. Wideout is their leading receiver with 12 catches for 237 yards and one score. Three other pass catchers have caught at least six balls and all of them have found their way into the end zone.
On defense, they have been very strong so far as they come in ranked 4th in total yards allowed (206.7 ypg). Furthermore, their secondary has been outstanding allowing only 95 yards per game which is best in the nation. Overall, the Vanderbilt defense is giving up only 4.3 points per game which is first in the land.
This is an interesting match-up that screams for a low-scoring affair. Both defenses are superb and both offenses can’t really be considered power-houses. Especially the Commodores, who are 103rd in yards per game. Even still, they have managed to put up 28 points per contest. They won’t reach that in this game.
Alabama’s offense is sputtering a little but it almost seemed like they lost interest in last week’s match-up against Colorado State. We’ll really see what they’re made of against a much better Vanderbilt defense on the road. Personally, I don’t think things just get fixed overnight so I don’t expect too many points from Bama either.
With that being said, odds gurus have this game’s total down to 43, and I can see why. Nevertheless, that is too risky for me to suggest you put your money on the under or the over. It is a fifty-fifty proposition and I think there is a better option on the board for this match.
Line setters have the Tide as a -18.5 favorite because they know that Bama could score enough points against the Vanderbilt defense that the Commodores offense can’t respond enough to cover. I disagree. I certainly don’t think Vandy will light up the scoreboard but Kyle Shurmur has played mistake-free football thus far and that is a big deal against the Tide. Either way, I believe the better way to spend your hard-earned money is to take the home dog with a smart quarterback and a stout defense to cover the +18.5. Go Commodores!
The Crimson Tide are 5-0 ATS in their last five home games.
The Crimson Tide are 6-1 ATS in their last seven conference games.
The Commodores are 4-1 ATS in their last five conference games.
The Commodores are 6-1 ATS versus teams with a winning record.
The Over is 5-2 in the Crimson Tides last seven road games.
The Under is 21-7-2 in the Commodores last 30 games overall.
The Under is 6-0 in their last six meetings.
Head over to the getmoresports podcast section and check out EJ the Rainmaker and I’s Thursday Night College Football Throwdown. We gave all our predictions for Saturday’s action and also our outright dog picks to win. We both went undefeated with our dog plays last week and are primed for another big one in week four. #moneytreesgrow
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