Date/Time: August 29, 2013 9:15 pm EST
College Football Betting Favorite: Mississippi -3
The Mississippi Rebels are on a lot of people’s list as a team to watch this year. The Vanderbilt Commodores have been a much improved team under James Franklin, but they’ve had nothing but problems in the offseason. Can the Rebels live up to their much higher expectations this year? Can Vanderbilt overcome all the off-the-field issues? Opening night of the college football season is finally here!
Mississippi wasn’t great a year ago, but they showed plenty of promise. Hugh Freeze went 7-6 in his first year with the program. The team was only 3-5 in the SEC, but they did show a lot of improvement throughout the year. They were edged out by LSU in Baton Rouge in the second to last game of the year, and they blasted rival Mississippi State in their final game. The Rebels return 19 starters from last year’s team, which is the most of any team in the SEC. The defense returns 10 starters.
What’s the strength of this fast improving defense? It is definitely their linebackers. Outside of Alabama, no one else in this conference has linebackers as good as the Rebels. The secondary is the weakest link of the defense, but they should be better than last season. Offensively, Jeff Scott gives this team the best running back they have had since Dexter McCluster. Bo Wallace has a lot of talent, but he needs to cut down on his interceptions. Donte Moncrief is the team’s best play maker on the outside, and they’ll need to get him the ball more this year. The Rebels were 10-3 ATS last season.
James Franklin has done a tremendous job taking Vanderbilt from a cellar dweller to a team that won 9 games last year and went 5-3 in the SEC. The news off the field in the offseason has been about a rape investigation into four former Vanderbilt players. They have been kicked off the team, and none of them were key contributors, but it certainly hasn’t been good for the program. Vanderbilt returns 7 starters on offense and 6 starters on defense this year. Jordan Rodgers is gone this year, and Austyn Carta-Samuels steps in at quarterback. Carta-Samuels has ability, and I think he’ll hold his own for the Commodores. He has a great wide receiver on the outside in Jordan Matthews.
Vanderbilt’s weakness heading into the season appears to be their rushing defense. They have lost a bunch of talent from their front seven on defense the last couple years. The Commodores have a very tough schedule this year, and they are going to really have a tough time getting to nine wins again. The running game will have to be better than expected, and the front seven will have to do better stopping the run.
Free Pick: Mississippi -3
The line has moved in a big way here, and that tells us quite a bit. The sharp money seems to like the Rebels a lot. I like Mississippi’s balance, and I think they win and cover here.
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