Already 0-2, the Vanderbilt Commodores face another tough challenge on Saturday. The LSU Tigers seem to have finally found an offense that works, after years and years of offenses that couldn’t seem to consistently put points on the board (in spite of gobs of talent.) LSU is averaging 55 points per game through its first three games of season. Granted, those three games were against Georgia Southern, Northwestern State, and a Big 12 team — but of course, 55 points per game is 55 points per game.
What say the Anchor of Gold staff?
Do I think Vanderbilt wins this game? No. LSU is too good on both sides of the ball to entertain that thought. There was a time before the season when you thought the Tigers’ offense might be not clicking early in the season to the point that Vanderbilt could spring an upset — but do you see this Vanderbilt offense scoring 40 points on this LSU defense? Because that’s what it’s going to take to win this, and I can’t see that happening.
On the other hand, I also think Vanderbilt is capable of playing a lot better than they’ve showed through the first two games of the season, and I think that might start changing tonight. This could be relatively close for a while.
The Pick: LSU 42, Vanderbilt 21
SEC Upset PIck of the Week: For some reason, the oddsmakers think Cal (+2.5) over OLE MISS would be an upset.
LSU is going to come out throwing early and often. It’s possible the Commodores have scouted the Tiger’s passing game well and have made adjustments from the first two games. This will be an incredible test for the green (and talented) secondary. But Burrow, Jefferson, and Marshall Jr are just too much. I do think we’ll see a defensive score. Call me crazy but this feels like a game where LSU is a little loose with the football.
On offense, I think Vanderbilt plays much better. I suspect they will lean heavily on Vaughn to attract the Tigers. LSU could take away Pinkney and Lipscomb to throw and not stack the box, but allowing a talent like Vaughn to run in space and keep the ball with Vandy is the only path to an upset. I expect some successful runs, a few scripted chunk plays.
And LSU to score just enough to cover.
The Pick: LSU 41, Vanderbilt 17
SEC Upset PIck of the Week: Wildcats over CLANGA. MSU is 1-2 against the spread this year. -6.5 isn’t a lot for being at home. Go Blue?
Feel free to go find all the places where I said this game would be one we could steal without surprising me too much. I was wrong. DA COACH O finally found someone to give the Bayou Bengals offense some bite. They have been taking massive chunks out of every defense they have played so far. Granted, as Tom pointed out, those were not the best defenses, but Vandy has consistently against spread offenses — and no, that is not something new under Mason so stow the “hurr durr ‘DEFENSIVE GENIUS!’” nonsense. The problem is the age-old issue for Commodore teams. Depth. Most of the time, our 4th or 5th DB is not good enough in space to handle all the eye-candy, crossing routes, and athleticism of spread teams.
With that said, Vanderbilt’s depth at corner is pretty decent. Randall Haynie will miss the first half due to that soft targeting call in the 2nd half against Purdue. Cam Watkins, Allan George, and DC Williams is still a pretty good trio for a Vandy squad, though we lack that one lock-down guy in the mold of Joejuan Williams, Andre Hal, Casey Hayward, and others. Williams might be quietly doing a decent impersonation of any of those 3, but I do not have the numbers for completions allowed by player.
Oh, and LSU defense is still really good. Yes, they slept-walked their way to allowing 14 first-half points to Northwestern State. Vandy has much, MUCH more offensive talent than the Demons, but LSU is probably more focused on this game than they were on that one. Hopefully, Mason has the guys focused on not committing stupid penalties, or any other efforts will be for nought. They probably will be anyway on the scoreboard, but a well-played game that ends in a loss to a potential national title contender could do a lot to restore the faith of a reasonable fan.
The Pick: LSU 41, Vanderbilt 24
SEC Upset PIck of the Week: Fun Fact: Since Texas A&M joined the SEC, the winner of the Auburn-A&M game has been the home team only once in seven games. Auburn won last year at home. Auburn’s defense is very real, but there are legitimate concerns about true freshman Bo Nix going to that giant tacklebox in College Station. Gus Malzahn’s playcalling will either come up big to win this game or fall flat on its face. Well, guess what, WAR DAMN EAGLE, PAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWL!