Western Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt College Football Picks

Ross Benjamin

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 8:13 PM GMT

We’re going to examine Thursday’s college football season opener between Western Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Read this compelling betting preview article which culminates with a point spread pick.

Vanderbilt looks to Save Face for SEC in Season Opener versus WKU
What’s the college football betting landscape coming to? On Thursday’s opening night of the 2015 season, we have a SEC team as a home underdog against an opponent from Conference USA. That will certainly be the case when Vanderbilt hosts Western Kentucky in Nashville, Tennessee at 8:00 PM ET. This game will be aired by the SEC Network. According to current (9/1) college football betting odds at Heritage, Vanderbilt is +2.5 (-105), and the posted total is 64.0.  

 

Hilltoppers Loaded for Bear Offensively
Western Kentucky has seven returning starters from an offense that averaged 44 points and 535 yards per game in 2014. More importantly, they return all of their starters at the skilled position. Leading the charge will be senior quarterback Brandon Doughty who threw for 4830 yards, tossed 49 touchdown passes, and was intercepted just 10 times in 552 attempts. Both starting wide receivers return in addition to 2014 leading rusher Leon Allen. The senior tailback is coming off a tremendous 2014 campaign in which he rushed for 1542 yards, scored 16 touchdowns, and also had 43 pass receptions that were good for another 476 yards.

 

Not So Fast my Friend
Before you get carried away with the potential impressive explosiveness of the Western Kentucky offense, let’s take time to preview their defense. The good news is that the Hilltoppers have nine returning starters on defense. The bad news, they allowed an average of 40 points and 510 yards per game last season. Western Kentucky opponents scored 42 points or more in 8 of 13 games a season ago, including 50 points or more on four separate occasions.

 

Youthful Growing Pains in 2014 to Pay Dividends in 2015
Derek Mason took over at Vanderbilt in 2014 after highly successful former head coach James Franklin bolted for Penn State. The Commodores played a total of 30 freshmen last year, and the results weren’t pretty. Vanderbilt finished the season with a dismal 3-9 record. Keep in mind, this was a program that was coming off back to back 9-4 seasons under Franklin, and went to three consecutive bowl games. In any event, they return nine starters on each side of the ball, and should be a more polished product in 2015. That’s not to say they will be a serious threat in the SEC just yet, but they certainly need to win games like this one against an opponent from a non-power conference. Their only 3 victories last season came over Massachusetts 34-31, Charleston Southern 21-20, and Old Dominion 42-28. That’s not exactly the who’s who of college football.

 

Final Analysis
Although Vanderbilt once again figures to be a SEC bottom feeder, the freshmen class that received a plethora of playing time a year ago should be much better for it. This has all the earmarks of a tightly contested contest with all things being considered. The Commodores get my slight lean due to better overall athleticism and home field advantage. I’ll take the home underdog for one of my  college football picks in week one.

College Football Picks: Play on Vanderbilt +2.5 (-105)