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Saturday Predictions: Vanderbilt at UNLV

Will this go better than the last time?

Vandy vs. Army death rabbits

After taking their first loss of the season at Wake Forest last week, Vanderbilt goes on the road for the second week in a row, traveling to Las Vegas where they’ll face UNLV at 6 PM on Saturday.

The last (and only other) time Vanderbilt played UNLV, it was a 34-10 beatdown at the hands of the Rebels in Nashville. That was the beginning of the end for Derek Mason, though he for some reason coached another season.

Also, this game is likely to be indoors at the retractable-roofed Allegiant Stadium, which would mark Vanderbilt’s first indoor football game since the 2018 Texas Bowl. Prior to that, a game at Syracuse in 1991, and a few road games at Tulane when they played in the Superdome (back when we used to play Tulane regularly like a proper football program.)

What do the writers think?

Tom Stephenson

I understand why everyone is antsy about this one, between three performances that were varying degrees of “meh” to open the 2023 season and what happened the last time we played UNLV, never mind the weirdly low point spread (4.5 points as I’m writing this.)

But let’s not overthink this. UNLV is a bad team whose quarterbacks have yet to throw a touchdown pass this season, thus possibly negating the biggest weakness of the Vanderbilt defense. This game really shouldn’t be close; Vanderbilt is due for an actual good performance and I’m guessing it will come this week.

The Pick: Vanderbilt 42, UNLV 21

The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: FLORIDA (+6) might be a mediocre team, but it is always a good idea to bet against Tennessee going into the Swamp.

Andrew VU ‘04

Ah yes, the Mason Test. Has NoHo Clark made progress with this team, or is he just a more eloquent Derp Mason? To be honest, that’s a coin flip for me after the first three games of this season. Lose to UNLV, and the torchforks come out.

Still, if our O-Line protects at all, our WRs should feast on the Running Reb secondary. The Vegans have allowed 450 yards per game, and 272 of those are through the air. Swann needs to level up, but he should be seeing a lot of open field around Sheppard, McGowan, and Humphreys. That should be enough to win this one.

The Pick: Vanderbilt 31 - UNLV 24

The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Fuck it, give me the Zips over the Mashburn Wedding Jerseys. Take Akron (+24.5) in a wild one over Kentucky.

Patrick Sawyer

Vanderbilt has played two really poor first halves followed by much better second halves in the last 2 games. The margin of victory should depend on whether they start slow again. Just like last time, if Vanderbilt loses this game then it should be the beginning of the end for Vanderbilt’s coach. UNLV is a mediocre G5 team. Losing to them in year 3 after showing you can beat 2 SEC teams is unacceptable. Coaching decisions like playing BJ Anderson into the second half after he kept giving up DPIs, a TD, and other busted coverages really hurt the team against Wake.

I think they will probably correct course though. They come out pissed off after making stupid mistakes last weeks, players and coaches, and handle business the right way.

The Pick: Vanderbilt 41, UNLV 17

The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Tennessee’s nightmares about the Swamp continue. Florida totally derails the Overthrow Joe hype train. It is going to be an ugly game, and I think Tennessee stumbles late.

Cole Sullivan

I am pretty scared about this one, honestly. I still think we’ll win, because I always think we’ll win, but UNLV’s defense is probably better than people think it is. However, if we can keep their one good receiver covered, I think we can slow their committee ground crew down just enough to power through to victory with our own speedy receivers.

The Pick: Vanderbilt 20 - UNLV 17

The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: I really want it to be Samford over Auburn, but my real pick is South Carolina over Georgia. I think Georgia may start slow like they sometimes do and Spencer Rattler and the offense could accidentally have a really good game. It’s a weird-ish year in college football, so why not?