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Northwestern vs. Vanderbilt

Betting Odds and Prediction

Betting Line - Northwestern -4 O/U 44

9/4/10

You'd have to assume that when Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson resigned in July, one of the major reasons was the monumental task in front of him and the team. What he did at Vandy was spectacular. considering what he was up against. He took the SEC's only private school, a school with the highest academic standards in the SEC and among the highest in the country, and turned them into a tough, dangerous, SEC competitor in his 7 years there, reaching the pinnacle of his success in a 7 win 2007 season.

Northwestern is perhaps at the other end of the spectrum. Not exactly a Big 10 powerhouse, but this team won 9 games in 2008 and 8 last season and has quite a few returning starters at key positions on both sides of the ball for the 2010 season. Things started clicking for Northwestern last year towards the end of last season. Disappointing early losses to Syracuse and Minnesota put a damper on the season as a whole but down the stretch they won 4 of 5 games including big wins over Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin before losing an exciting bowl game to Auburn 38-35.

While Northwestern has some key starters from last season in place, they will have to replace All Big 10 QB Mike Kafka, as well as other key position players at wide receiver and running back. Northwestern wasn't able to get the running game clicking last seasons which could be a problem in this game as Vandy has always been tough defensively.

Last year Northwestern averaged 26 points per game. In fact, they averaged that number in 3 of the last 4 years. If they can approach that total in this game, they should  win and cover. Vanderbilt has been hurting offensively, averaging just 16 points per game last season with no signs of any significant improvement on the horizon.

We think Bobby Johnson saw the writing on the wall. This is a game between two teams heading in opposite directions. One has high hopes for a bright, immediate future while the other sees a mountain to climb. The number in this one is modest enough at Northwestern -3.5, so were going to go ahead and lay it. A win here could set Northwestern up for a nice run. They could be undefeated at 8-0 heading into the Penn State game November 6th, as their toughest games figure to be against Central Michigan and then a 3 game stretch of Big 10 foes they can beat, Minnesota, Purdue and Michigan State. But it all starts with Vanderbilt. Northwestern -4

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