No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Saturday September 23rd, 2017. 3:30PM (EST)
Where: Vanderbilt Stadium Nashville, T.N.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ALA -19/VAN +19
Over/Under Total: TBA
The top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will take their undefeated campaign on the road this weekend with a road trip to Nashville to battle the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Commodores have historically been considered a cakewalk for most SEC opponents but they may have opened some eyes last week with their stunning upset over no. 18 Kansas State 14-7. Now Vanderbilt stands at 3-0 SU for the first time since 2011 and suddenly garnishes some respect from the mighty Crimson Tide that are on the heels of a somewhat shaky performance last week in their 41-23 win over Colorado State in Tuscaloosa.
I warned everyone last week that Alabama did not look like they were firing on all cylinders offensively and advised to take Colorado State +28. In fact, I believe I have been right on all of my Alabama predictions this year for the record. However following last weeks 41-23 victory over the Rams, I think we could pose some defensive questions for the first time in forever under Nick Saban. Colorado State posted 391 yards of total offense against the mighty Crimson Tide defense which is surprising considering Nick Saban has housed top 5 defenses for the last several years. So is the real reason for concern or am I just creating some hyperbole to add excitement for this weeks game?
Well I believe the defensive concerns are legit against strong passing offenses. I have said on several occasions that the recipe for attacking Alabamas defense is throwing the ball down the field. Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens did just that completing 21 of 38 passing for 247 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 picks. I applauded Colorado States attempts to throw the ball down the field against Alabama as an inferior opponent and I still believe that is the blueprint to upsetting the Crimson Tide which I believe we will see in two weeks when Alabama faces Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson. For this week, I think all concerns can subside for one major reason and that is Vanderbilt does not matchup well in this game.
I do not want to downplay the Commodores upset from last week but in reality they presented a tough matchup for Kansas State. Both teams run relatively conservative offenses and rely on defense to stay competitive. The Commodores defense played great, forced a few turnovers, and Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur come up with a few touchdowns to aid the upset. In the theme of my blueprint against Alabama, Vanderbilt simply does not maintain the speed and quick striking ability to test this Alabama defense down the field. The Commodores are mainly a running offense with running back Ralph Webb who is an excellent tailback. However, this game does not bode well for the Commodores in the area in needs to the most and that is within the trenches.
Vanderbilts offense lacks talent but they are physical which works for most opponents on a relative talent level. However, I just do not see this offense working against the Crimson Tide because it is the perfect mismatch in terms of style of football. Even if the Commodores come up with another big defensive effort, I do not think it will be enough. Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 248 yards with 2 scores and ran for another 103 yards with a touchdown in the victory over the Rams last week. When you throw in the likes of WR Calvin Ridley and the running back brigade of Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris, Vanderbilt does not have the talent to keep those playmakers in check. I know this sounds like I am just hyping Alabama but I have been spot on with each prediction for the Crimson Tide this season. Believe me when I tell you, this will be a bad matchup for Vanderbilt!
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