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Vanderbilt vs. Northwestern, 09/08/2012 20:00
Point Spread: -3/-115 Vanderbilt
Saturday Free Pick: Vanderbilt -3
The Commodores almost pulled off the upset of the early season in their opening game at home against No. 9 South Carolina. Vanderbilt had a 13-10 lead into the 4th quarter, but would end up losing 13-17. That game alone should let you know how talented this Vanderbilt team is.
The Commodores were a completely different team when Jordan Rodgers took over the starting quarterback job late last season. They 3-3 over their final six regular season games, with a 3-point loss to Arkansas, 5-point loss at Florida and 6-point overtime loss at Tennessee. This is one of the most underrated teams in the country right now.
Vanderbilt should be able to move the ball at will against a horrible Northwestern defense. The Wildcats allowed 596 yards of total offense to Syracuse in their opener. While the Wildcats were able to win that game, the defense let Syracuse rally from a 35-13 deficit to take the lead in a matter of 15 minutes. That alone tells you that they are not going to be good on that side of the ball this year.
On the other side of the ball, you have to be impressed with how well Vanderbilt played defensively against South Carolina. They held the Gamecocks to just 272 yards of total offense. While I understand that South Carolina is a run-first team, they held them to just 67 yards passing.
There's no question Northwestern has a much more efficient passing attack, but I don't think people understand just how strong the Commodores secondary is. Vanderbilt held opposing offenses to just 192 yards/game passing last year. Even if Northwestern is able to put together a couple scoring drives, they aren't going to be able to keep up with what their defense is going to allow.
I wouldn't be surprised at all if Vanderbilt won this game by 20+ points, which makes them a no-brainer at -3! The Commodores are 20-6-1 ATS in their last 27 games in September, 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. loss and 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games overall. BET VANDERBILT!