College Football Picks: Mississippi vs. Vanderbilt

Jeff Grant

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 8:37 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2013 8:37 PM GMT

The Vanderbilt Commodores will open up their season against a conference opponent for a second consecutive season, as they prepare to host the Mississippi Rebels in a primetime contest.

Let’s take a closer look at the college football odds for this Southeastern Conference matchup at Vanderbilt Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 29, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 9:15 p.m. ET.

Program on the rise 

Mississippi is seen as a program on the rise by many across college football, as it compiled a 7-6 straight up (SU) and 10-3 against-the-spread (ATS) record in 2012, while offering no edge in terms of the betting total (6-6-1 Over/Under).

The Rebels are expected to welcome back 19 starters—nine on offense and 10 on the defensive end.

Second-year head coach Hugh Freeze made national headlines by securing the nation’s No. 5 recruiting class, which has people in Oxford excited for what’s potentially ahead. 

Building blocks

Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin has people excited about football in Nashville, as he delivered a 9-4 SUATS record a season ago, which included a 38-24 win over the NC State Wolf Pack in the Music City Bowl. 

The Commodores are expected to bring back seven starters on offense and six defensively, but will have a competition under center leading up to the season opener. 

Attacking defense 

College football handicappers have grown accustomed to the SEC putting together some strong defensive units, which certainly seems to be the case at Mississippi, with the squad leading the conference and ranking fourth nationally in averaging 7.9 tackles for loss in 2012. 

The Commodores bring back three starters on the offensive line and the group has 73 combined starts—something to keep in mind when forming your sports picks this affair. 

Season-opening spotlight 

It’s important to point out that Vanderbilt has been in this situation before, as it suffered a disappointing 17-13 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks as 6.5-point home underdogs in last year’s season opener. 

Mississippi will receive the majority of coverage by the national media in this matchup, but it hasn’t kicked off a schedule versus a conference foe since 2003, which is far different than lining up against Central Arkansas like it did a season ago.

Prediction 

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Commodores as one of their Week 1 college football picks, but I wouldn’t get too involved until their quarterback situation is sorted out, as I expected Austyn Carta-Samuels to earn the nod. 

College Football Picks:  Vanderbilt Commodores -2.5

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