Kentucky Home Cover vs. Vanderbilt for College Football Picks

Darin Zank

Thursday, September 25, 2014 4:39 PM GMT

Kentucky has already topped last year's win total; now it can work on becoming bowl-eligible. The 'Cats get a good chance at a fourth victory when they host in-state rival Vanderbilt Saturday afternoon in Lexington (noon ET, SECN). Here's our take on this match-up, and our opinion on a free college football pick.

The Betting Odds
Most college football odds opened Kentucky at around -14 over Vandy, but since have had to bump the Wildcats to -17 or so. The total also had moved, starting at 52 or so, but getting bet down to 50.

The Commodores could also be gotten at around +600 on the moneyline at various college football betting outlets.

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The Match-Up
Kentucky is 2-1 SU, 3-0 ATS in its second season under Coach Stoops. The Cats opened with a 59-14 victory over FCS Tennessee-Martin, covering as 21-point favorites. They then beat Ohio 20-3, covering at -13. And two weeks ago they gave Florida all it could handle, falling 36-30 in overtime but covering as 17-point dogs at the Swamp.

 

The Wildcats had last week off.
Kentucky got outrushed by the Gators 237-81 and committed three turnovers, but made enough big plays, namely a couple of Patrick Towles touchdown passes, to stay in it throughout.

Kentucky returned 15 starters this year from a team that went 2-10 last year. Seven starters came back on offense, including four along the offensive line, and eight starters returned on defense.

Vanderbilt is 1-3 both SU and ATS in its first season under new head coach Derek Mason. The Commodores opened with an embarrassing 37-7 loss at home to Temple, falling straight up as eight-point favorites. They then lost at home to Ole Miss 41-3, whiffing on the spread as 17-point home dogs. Vandy then had to scramble like hell to beat Massachusetts 34-31, never coming close to covering the spread as 16-point favorites. In fact, the Commodores needed two defensive/special teams scores and a Ralph Webb TD run with a minute to go to beat the Minutemen.

Last week, though, the Commodores put on their most spirited effort of the year, losing at home to South Carolina 48-34, covering as 23-point home dogs. Vandy got two kickoff returns for scores from Darrius Sims, ran for 156 yards, and only trailed by a field goal heading into the fourth quarter. It wasn't a win, but it looked like a step forward.

Vandy returned just 10 starters this season, tied for the fewest in the Southeastern Conference, from a team that went 9-4 last year. Six starters came back on offense, including four along the offensive line, but only four starters returned on defense.

Vandy gave up 25 points per game last season; it looks like they'll give up more than that this year.

 

Wildcats-Commodores Recent History
Vandy has beaten Kentucky three times in a row. Last year in Nashville the Commodores spotted the Cats the first touchdown, then shut'em out from there, winning 22-6, covering as 11-point favorites.

But the Vandy team that will take the field Saturday isn't quite the same team as the one that won that game last year.

 

Wildcats-Commodores Betting Trends
Kentucky is 4-1 ATS as a favorite under Coach Stoops.

This Bluegrass State rivalry is tied all-time at 41-41-4.

 

Free College Football Pick
It's not easy thinking “Kentucky -17” over anybody, and we don't like going along with the flow, but after Vandy put up a big effort last week, and with the Cats coming off a bye, logic seems to point toward the Blue. So we'll give the points and go with the Kentucky at 5Dimes for our free college football pick in this spot.