For the first time in history, the Vanderbilt Commodores will meet the Nevada Wolf Pack at 11 AM CT on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium. Yet there are some strange, interesting connections between the two programs. Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig was reportedly a finalist for Nevada’s head coaching job in 2016, though the Wolf Pack hired Jay Norvell, who went 3-9 in his first season. Commodore offensive line coach Cameron Norcross is a Nevada alum and spent 11 years as the Wolf Pack’s offensive line coach. And, Nevada’s star wide receiver, McLane Mannix, was a longtime Vanderbilt commit before ultimately signing with Nevada in 2017.
Nevada showed some impressive offensive firepower in a 72-19 win over Portland State in its season opener. That offense will go up against a Vanderbilt defense that held MTSU to 7 points in a season-opening win. Who will win on Saturday?
Nevada’s offense is a stereotypical, high-powered G5 offense. It puts up points against the likes of Portland State, but as we’ve seen over the last few years, Derek Mason’s defenses have been quite good at slowing down such offenses. On the other side of the ball, Nevada’s defense is bad, and holding Portland State — an FCS team that went 0-11 last season — to 19 points doesn’t really change my opinion of it. Nevada’s undersized three-man front is going to have some difficulty slowing down Vanderbilt’s stable of running backs.
I think Vanderbilt wins this game; Nevada’s defense just isn’t going to get enough stops for the offense to keep up. The real question is whether Nevada’s offense will turn this into a shootout or if Vanderbilt can shut it down.
The Pick: Vanderbilt 42, Nevada 14
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Ugh, gross. I don’t see any good upset picks so screw it. ETSU over THEM. Get at me, Vol Twitter.
There’s something about a Vanderbilt game where we have a two score spread which is just making me uneasy. There’s something unnatural about it. Decades of the sportswriters saying retarded stuff like “we won’t come within 10 points of a SEC win” may be the big reason behind that. Another part of that is that Vanderbilt has a rich history of making games harder than they need to be. After MTSU I should feel more optimistic, but I really don’t. Tom makes a good point that Nevada let up too many points to an FCS team, but I just have a gut feeling this is going to be scary.
There’s no logic to it. At least I’m being honest with you that I’m just going on emotions and not pretending it’s anything else. As such, for this article, I’m changing my stance on my pick yesterday for us to cover the ten point spread...
The Pick: Vanderbilt 35, Nevada 28
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: As I’ve covered in my watching guide this week, there’s really no games worth picking. Especially for SEC games. If you’re really gonna force me to pick one, I’ll take KSU to defeat MSU, but this is under protest.
Wait, what? You want me to weigh in on a Vanderbilt game? What on God’s green earth do I know about Vanderbilt OR Nevada football? I’m going to be spending all day tomorrow at the research center reading about early 20th century baseball until the Auburn game comes on (when the research center closes), and by then the Vandy game will be long over.
I don’t know. Vanderbilt trying to go for a 2-0 start? Sounds great, but something tells me we’ll get in our own way. We’ll come out on top, but we’ll get in our own way.
The Pick: Vanderbilt 21, Nevada 14
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Would love to see Clemson or Georgia go down early, but I don’t see it happening.
Vanderbilt’s offense will find it’s groove after the fits and starts of the first game. They’ll have success at the line of scrimmage creating an effective run game and then lots of play action passes down the field.
It’s more than a glorified scrimmage. It’s exactly what it looks like, an SEC team against a G5 team with inferior talent. The gulf between the haves and have nots in talent is wide, even for a lower tier SEC team. Mason wants his offense to stretch its legs, and that’s what it’ll do.
The defense will have a few miscues leading to chunk plays and TD’s. However, the DL will be active and aggressive again. At least one tipped pass will result in a pick, and the defense will score a TD, too.
The Pick: Vanderbilt 38, Nevada 17
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Arkansas State over Alabama
hahahahahahah, just kidding. Tough week this week. So KState of MSU. Home game for the Wildcats. They have a history of being a tough out. The line is less than two scores. Seems reasonable.
Oh crap Vanderbilt has to face a team that scored 72 points past wee— wait, it was against 0-11 Portland State, doesn’t count.
I know the snarky money is on Nevada to pull off the upset, because they’re hot and unknown and Vandy’s still Vandy, but I don’t see it. The Wolf Pack crushed a team that wouldn’t make the Division II playoffs, which is great. But they’re still less than a year removed from losing to a 4-7 Idaho State team, and the only reason I know who their quarterback is is because his last name is Lucille Bluth’s nickname:
Jessica Walter is a treasure. Ty Gangi is pretty good, too. He’s thrown 28 touchdown passes over his last 13 games — but also 12 interceptions. On Saturday, he’ll face a ton of pressure from a renewed pass rush that sacked Brent Stockstill six times last week.
Gangi struggled against the better teams he played last fall, throwing six interceptions between games against Fresno State and Boise State. But he also performed well against San Diego State’s smothering blitz attack (414 yards, three touchdowns), so it’ll take a big day from the Vandy secondary to keep him in check.
Fortunately, Ladarius Wiley will be available for the entire game after being ejected for targeting last week, and JoeJuan Williams helped lead a unit that limited Stockstill to just 4.9 yards per pass. Ultimately, I think the Wolf Pack can outshine the Blue Raiders — but not by enough to make a difference Saturday.
The pick: Vanderbilt 38, Nevada 21. McLane Mannix scores all three touchdowns and exits to a standing ovation from all 46 fans that see this one through to the final horn.
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Duke over NORTHWESTERN. God, what a bad week of SEC football.
Andrew VU ‘04
I predict I will post endless photo stills from the 60s and 70s TV cop show Mannix in the comment thread. Oh, and there will be a football game.
We will not lose it.
The pick: Vanderbilt 54, Nevada 40. Or fight.
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: ETSU over the Chuggers. The SEC will be 26-2 at the conclusion of this week.
The Wolfpack defense is really bad. They struggle to even imagine what stopping the run would be like. Whether our rushing attack can have success against a good defense is a mystery, but the law firm of Wakefield, Blasingame, and Vaughn should do even better this week than last week. Wakefield and Blasingame were both over 5.5 yards per carry while Vaughn struggled early due to take every attempt to the house but still managed 4.1 yards per carry. Any struggles to run the ball against less than a 9-man box should really concern all of us.
Vanderbilt’s defense got easy pressure on Brent Stockstill with mostly 3- and 4-man rushes. I know nothing about Nevada’s offensive line. Something tells me they are about on par with MTSU, though, and we saw how that went for the Blue Raiders. Being able to drop 6 or 7 defenders into coverage will limit the big plays Nevada will need to win with Vandy’s offense marching up and down the field.
The pick: Vanderbilt 45, Nevada 10
SEC Upset Pick of the Week: The Ghost of Mark Richt traveled with the Bulldogs to Colombia, and they will suffocate in a Sandstorm. South Carolina wins and takes the driver’s seat in the East. Also, we can clearly see VU ‘04 has met the minimum drink limit since he has every SEC team winning except THEM while there are 2 SEC vs. SEC games, but I think VU ‘04 upsets the impending hangover.