SEC Football Predictions Week 1: Picking Games Against the Spread

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Sep 13, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores running back Ralph Webb (26) celebrates after scoring the winning touchdown during the second half against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Vanderbilt Stadium. The Commodores won 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

  • Date: Thursday September 3, 2014
  • Time: 8PM Eastern
  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • TV Channel: SEC Network
  • Spread: WKU -2.5
  • Over/Under Total: 64.5

It’s quite rare for an SEC football team to be a home underdog against an opponent from Conference USA. There have been only a few in recent history, including a 2009 matchup between Houston and Mississippi State in Starkville (which the Cougars won) and Tulsa playing Arkansas in 2008, in which the Razorbacks pulled off the upset against the No. 19 Golden Hurricane. But that’s the situation we have in Game 2 of the SEC double-header Thursday night.

Vanderbilt was a big favorite last season in Week 1 over Temple and the Commodores were embarrassed 37-7. Things didn’t get much better the rest of the season and Vandy slid to 3-9 overall, though the ‘Dores were 6-6 against the spread thanks to closer-than expected losses to South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. However, Vanderbilt was dreadful on both offense and defense most of the season.

Western Kentucky had a strong 8-5 season under first year head coach Jeff Brohm thanks primarily to a high-octane offense that averaged 44.4 points per game. The Hilltoppers pulled a major upset in the season finale last year, beating undefeated No. 19 Marshall 67-66, and followed with a dramatic 49-48 victory over Central Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl.

Record-setting quarterback Brandon Doughty threw for 4,830 yards and 49 touchdowns last season and was the C-USA player of the year. Granted a sixth year of eligibility, Doughty is a big reason WKU is one of the favorites to win the conference and perhaps even make it to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

However, there was a reason that Vanderbilt opened as a 17.5-point point favorite (according to VegasInsider). Sure, the money piled on in recent weeks and caused a HUGE shift in the line, but there is value in taking an SEC home underdog, especially against a team from C-USA. Vanderbilt is actually the more talented team from top to bottom, and head coach Derek Mason is coaching for his job this season. WKU may win, but expect it to be close.

Next: ULM at Georgia