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Alabama

vs.

Vanderbilt

College Football

Free Pick

9/23/17

This game could be interesting, but then again, it could be another Alabama blow out. The Crimson Tide haven’t been challenged yet and that’s seen in their last two non-covers, as they only really needed their starters for half of the games. And that’s the main reason Alabama is still a huge -18.5 point road favorite at Vanderbilt (as seen Monday at 5Dimes Sportsbook).

Vanderbilt could end up being a team that shouldn't be overlooked, though, and that has everything to do with head coach Derek Mason. He has his team rolling, coming off a recent win as a home underdog against Kansas State. Just last year, this team battled against the likes of Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee and didn’t lose any of them by more than seven points. At home in a game they likely circled before the season started, the Commodores are getting no respect in the line.

Of course, Alabama usually gets the best of all of its opponents and that usually doesn't matter. It’s still worth noting the Tide struggled in road games last season, from the 48-43 win at Ole Miss, their first trip of the season, to the 10-0 win at LSU. There is a small route for Vandy to compete and that will mean its defense has to show up again.

The Tide have the best offensive line in the country and there’s no stopping it. Jalen Hurts has already ran for 312 yards, while stud running backs Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough have combined for 300. Hurts hasn't been asked to throw much with just 53 pass attempts, although still has a stout 67.9 completion rate. Vandy’s goal will be to hold its ground and not get completely run over. The Commodores have only allowed 13 points so far and holding K State to seven is a good feat. But this game is an entirely new test. If they can just contain the ‘Bama ground game from getting large chunks of yardage, that would be a start.

To cover this game, it will come down to the other side of the ball since you know Alabama will find the scoreboard no matter what. The good news for the ‘Dores is that Kyle Shurmur has looked sharp in the early season with 703 passing yards and eight touchdowns on 71% completion. Alabama’s defense always seems to have an issue against good quarterbacks and that’s what Shurmur has displayed early on. He’s clearly on a much different level than when he had just 9 TDs and 10 INTs in 2016. While he’s still not elite, Shurmur’s goal will be to be competent in this contest. But to move the ball consistently, it’s going to come down to the Vandy ground game and that’s not a certainty as they’ve garnered just 3.0 yards per carry in their first three games. If the Commodores couldn't run on their first three opponents, how will they now?

If Vandy can’t run the ball then the path is clear for an Alabama cover. The Tide will gobble up anything Vandy does offensively, while Hurts and company will do what they want and run down the throats of the opposing defense. Vandy looks solid on paper, but covering against an Alabama team that’s better in all facets of the game won’t be easy.

Our Pick - Vandy competed in ever game a year ago with only two exceptions. Along the way they knocked off the Vols, Georgia and Ole Miss and played some other notable teams tight. They are loaded with returning starters and figure to compete every week once again this year.

No question Alabama is in a different class. One need only look at the historical records to hammer that point home. Vanderbilts last win in this series came in 1984 and priot to that, 1969.

But there have been plenty of close games along the way. In fact, if you went back to 1992 and gave Vandy +18.5 points in very game against Bama, Vandy would have a spread record of 10-4 and this particular Vandy team figures to be better than any of the 14 vandy teams that played Bama in that time span. Vanderbilt +18.5

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