Mississippi vs. Vanderbilt 9:15 PM ET
Game # 143-144
Current Line: Mississippi -3.0
On the opening night of the college football season, two SEC teams collide as the Ole Miss Rebels travel to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. Both of these programs will look to build on the momentum they ended with a season ago. Current college football odds show Mississippi as a 3.0-point road favorite. The game is televised nationally on ESPN with kickoff slated for 9:15 PM ET.
Vanderbilt got off to a slow 2-4 start to the season a year ago. The Commodores then proceeded to win their final 7 games of the season including finishing with a 38-24 Music City Bowl victory over North Carolina State. It must be mentioned that only 2 of those final 7 wins came versus opponents that finished the season with a winning record. In addition their bowl game was played in Nashville where their campus is located. Ironically their other victory versus a winning team came in a 27-26 win at Mississippi. Vanderbilt also finished the season on a perfect 6-0 ATS run. The Commodores head coach is James Franklin who’s set to begin his 3rd season at Vanderbilt. Franklin has gone 15-11 in his first 2 seasons at the helm. Under Franklin Vanderbilt is a very profitable 16-8 ATS. Franklin has seen his team go an excellent 11-2 ATS under his guidance when they’re installed as a favorite. They’ve covered 10 of their last 12 meetings versus Ole Miss including 4 of the 5 that were played at home.
Vanderbilt returns 8 starters on offense and 6 on defense. The offense may have taken a big hit when starting wide receiver Chris Boyd was indicted on charges that he was an accomplice after the rape of an unconscious student on campus that occurred on 6/29/13. Four other players were previously charged and dismissed from the team. Boyd was immediately suspended from the team pending further review. Boyd had 50 receptions for 774 yards and 5 touchdowns last season. The good news is that top receiver Jordan Mathews will return. Mathews is a 2013 Bleitnikoff Award candidate. Many experts project him to be a possible #1 pick in the 2014 NFL entry draft.
Mississippi finished 7-6 a year ago including a BBVA Compass Bowl 38-17 win over Pittsburgh. You can make a case the Rebels were a lot better team than their record indicated. They let one get away in a 30-27 home loss to Texas A&M in a game they led for most of the way. They also lost a game that could have went either way in Baton Rouge falling 41-35 to the LSU Tigers, in addition to the previously mentioned narrow 27-26 home loss to Vanderbilt. Mississippi was very kind to their backers a year ago going a highly profitable 9-3 ATS. Hugh Freeze begins his 2nd season as the head coach of the Rebels. Freeze shocked many when he brought in a top 10 recruiting class for 2013. Ole Miss can very easily be one of the nation’s sleepers this season especially considering they return all 11 starters on defense and 8 on offense.
This is a rare situation where we see a road favorite in their opening game of the season and playing with revenge. As a matter of fact this exact situation has only occurred 51 times since the start of the 1980 season. The away favorite in this situation has gone 30-21 ATS (58.8%) in those 51 contests, including 12-5 ATS if they’re a favorite of 3.0 or less. The negative side to the equation is if they’re playing a conference opponent the system drops to just 8-11 ATS. This is a Vanderbilt program that’s gone 4-48 straight up in their last 52 games as a home underdog. Mississippi was installed as a road favorite just once a year ago. The Rebels were a 17.0-point favorite at Tulane proceeding to win and cover by the score of 39-0. Ole Miss will look to snap a 3-game losing streak at the hands of Vanderbilt for our College football picks.
My early take on this contest which is still 12 days away at the time of this writing is as follows. Vanderbilt looks like they will once again be a very competitive club but I don’t see them matching last season’s success. With all the distractions involving the dismissal of 4 players, and the suspension of their starting receiver, the Commodores will be especially vulnerable early on. This is a Mississippi team that’s loaded, playing with revenge, and will enter the year with high expectations. My early lean is to lay the small number and play the Ole Miss Rebels in this contest.
Free College Football Picks: Ole Miss at Bet 365