Both teams come in undefeated and it’s hard to say who has been better. Notre Dame took down Michigan, but then struggled to beat Ball State last weekend. ACCording to the odds, Vanderbilt has been more impressive covering its first two Games by a combined 46 points. Still, the Fighting Irish were -14.5 point home favorites as of Monday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
At two touchdowns, the Irish feel hard to back. They were solid against Michigan, but Brandon Wimbush’s three interceptions against Ball State are alarming. The offense is moving the ball, yet Wimbush was under duress a lot against Ball State and that led to 2.9 yards per carry as a team (sacks included). There’s no question the Irish can move the chains, but if Wimbush continues to have turnover issues, there won’t be many easy wins on the Schedule. At the least, running backs Tony Jones and Jafar Armstrong have done enough to keep the offense moving in a positive direction.
It could be an interesting matchup because Vandy has looked great in its first two Games. With little expected of the Commodores, they’ve been stout on both sides of the ball and holding Middle Tennessee and Nevada to a combined 17 points is a nice positive. But even if Notre Dame’s offense reaches 30 points, something it still hasn’t done, Vandy could Scoreenough to get the cover.
The spread is likely this high because Vanderbilt wasn’t a good team last year, winning just one SEC Game and it returned only 11 starters. While they played well in the first two, this is still a team that was blown out by teams like Kentucky and Missouri last year. Notre Dame’s defense is also miles better than anything they’ve seen.
A positive for the ‘Dores is that quarterback Kyle Shurmur brings experience to the table in his third season as starter. He managed the first two Games with a solid efficiency of 8.74 yards per attempt and 67.3% completion. Those numbers won’t continue, but if he takes care of the ball, that’s good news for Vandy. They’ll still look to ride the running Game as much as possible with Ke’Shawn Vaughn leading the way and he’s at 6.5 yards per carry.
For those betting on Notre Dame, there are numerous reasons that’s a good idea, whether it’s a massive talent advantage or something else. In comparison, Vandy beat MTSU 28-6 last year on the road and then 35-7 this year at home. The Commodores are good enough to dominate weaker teams, but when faced with tougher competition, the issues come in. Still, the Irish haven’t looked overly great and Wimbush is an unknown at quarterback.
The Commodores have covered in their last Four non-Conference Games, while the Fighting Irish are 1-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 5-1 ATS in their last six at home against a team with a winning road record.
Our Pick – Notre Dame -13