The 2013 college football season kicks off Thursday night with numerous intriguing match-ups with most of them of the non-conference variety, but in the SEC conference play begins right out of the gate with the Rebels of Mississippi traveling to Nashville, TN to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores at 9:15 pm ET. Mississippi comes into the game with a great deal of buzz after securing one of the top recruiting classes in the nation on the heels of a 7-6 record a season ago, and a 10-3 record against the spread. Vanderbilt posted a 9-4 record last season, and a 9-4 record ATS as well. The Rebels won last season’s meeting by a score of 27-26 in Oxford, MS and failed to cover a 3.5 point spread.
Ole Miss has high expectations for coach Hugh Freeze’s second season at the helm, the Rebels return quarterback Bo Wallace to lead an offense that averaged 31.5 points per game (48th in the nation) and 424.1 total yards per game (47th in the nation) a season ago. Fans won’t have to wait long to see 2013’s top-ranked recruit in action. Ole Miss’ depth chart for Thursday night’s opener lists defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and five-star receiver Laquon Treadwell as starters. The Rebels improved from 2-10 to 7-6 in coach Hugh Freeze’s debut season and subsequently reeled in a surprising top-10 class.The Rebel defense ranked 60th in the nation with 27.6 PPG allowed and 45th in total defense with 375.1 YPG allowed.
The Commodores closed the season on a 7 game winning streak and have one of the most popular young coaches in the nation in James Franklin. The Vandy offense will be breaking a new quarterback this season in Austyn-Carter Samuels a transfer from Wyoming, who will have the services of one of the top receivers in the nation in Jordan Matthews (94 receptions, 1,323 yards receiving in 2012) to rely on. The Commodores ranked a dismal 82nd nationally in total offense a year ago with 378.9 YPG when they had an established signal caller in Jordan Rodgers running the show, so they do not figure to be an offensive juggernaut out of the box this season with a new QB to break in.
Mississippi vs. Vanderbilt Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Mississippi Rebels -3
@Vanderbilt Commodores +3
Over 53.5 (-110)
Under 53.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Mississippi St. vs. Vanderbilt Pick
Ole Miss is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games, 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall, and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 SEC games. Vanderbilt is 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 12-3 ATS in their last 15 home games. The over is 4-0 in Ole Miss’ last 4 games overall and the under is 6-1 in their last 7 road games. The under is 34-16-1 in Vandy’s last 51 SEC games and the over is 8-3 their last 11 home games. In head-to-head play the under is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings between the two teams and 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Nashville. Ole Miss is 2-10 ATS in the last 12 meetings with the Commodores.
Vanderbilt finished last season on a major roll and carries the longest current winning streak in the SEC into this game, and they also have a very strong defensive unit that ranked 15th nationally in total defense in 2012 with 18.7 PPG allowed and 19th with 333.9 YPG allowed. Many odds-makers are skeptical of Franklin’s ability to string together back-to-back solid teams at a longtime doormat like Vanderbilt which is why the Commodores are underdogs at home to a mediocre Ole Miss team. With a strong defense and probably the best player on the field in Jordan Matthews, Vandy is a value pick as a home underdog here. Take Vandy and the points in this game.