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Kansas State

vs.

Vanderbilt

College Football

Free Pick

9/1617

Kansas State and Vanderbilt have both had great starts to the season, but beating up on weaker competition only goes so far. Now with a decent opponent, the rest of their seasons could be determined by how this game goes. The Wildcats appear to be a legitimate threat for the Big 12 and are -3.5 point road favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The Commodores likely have a lot on their minds with their game against Alabama next week. But as underdogs, they’re not in a position to overlook K State. The Wildcats have been slightly more impressive in the first two weeks, scoring 55 points in both contests, but it can also be argued that their games were slightly easier. At the least, both teams have returning starters at quarterback so this should be a good contest.

Jesse Ertz hasn’t been challenged in the first two games, from completing 10 passes for 333 yards against Central Arkansas to going 16-of-21 in the Charlotte win. His mobility (111 rushing yards) also gives the offense another dynamic, which is always the key for Bill Snyder led teams. Ertz was lacking in the passing department last season and so far has looked improved. Ertz along with running back Alex Barnes will determine how a good portion of this game goes. If they can find room to run, that would be a good starting point in a road game against a team that has only allowed six points.

The Commodores have looked a bit different in their first two games. They played a more defensive brand in the 28-6 win over Middle Tennessee, a team they beat 47-24 a season ago. If all goes to plan, this should probably end up in a more defensive contest with the team that has more consistent quarterback play coming out on top.

It remains to be seen what Vandy can do on the offensive side after struggling to score at a consistent rate last season. They’re also averaging a poor 3.5 yards per carry (sacks included) through the first two games. But like Ertz, quarterback Kyle Shurmur looks miles better than a season ago. And while the competition hasn’t been great, he already has seven touchdowns and zero picks after nine TDs and 10 INTs last season. If he can bring anywhere close to that performance in this game, that’d be impressive and also a good sign for the outlook on the rest of the campaign. The question will be if Ralph Webb can find room on the ground after just 103 yards on 37 carries in the first two games. But if Webb can’t find room against Mid Tennessee or Alabama A&M, then it’s a wonder what he’ll do against K State.

This game can go a number of ways with a step up in competition for both teams. The Wildcats have a better pedigree led by Snyder, but Vandy could end up being a challenger in the SEC East this season if Shurmur can show improvement throughout the year. This should be an interesting matchup with both sides getting plenty of action.

Our Pick - Both teams return several starters on both sides of the ball. Had this game taken place a year ago, our model would have had Kansas State on top by a TD. The Vandy defense might be the story here. Last year the held some pretty strong offenses in check. We're calling for more of the same. Vanderbilt +4 ans UNDER 50

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