Game Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network+
Radio: Vanderbilt Radio Network
How to watch online: WatchESPN
Odds: Vanderbilt opened as a 5-point favorite. The line has since wavered between 4 and 6 points.
The 2016 season for the Vanderbilt Commodores opened with a rocky start in Nashville. The Commodores welcomed South Carolina to town and the Gamecocks churned out a 13-10 victory over Derek Mason’s bunch, setting them back to an 0-1 record and aspirations chipping away in a season that had been running thin on promise as it was.
Nonetheless, after eight days of layoff, the Vanderbilt will retake the field Saturday afternoon as they host the MTSU Blue Raiders. MTSU comes in on the heels of a 55-0 victory over Alabama A&M, highlighted by the performance of quarterback Brent Stockstill who slung five touchdowns to five different receivers.
Three things to watch
1. Offensive opportunities: MTSU has a pretty meager defense that is mostly absent strong pass rushers and linebackers. They lost their top three tacklers from a season ago in T.T. Barber, Cavellis Luckett and Trey Wattford and while it didn’t come back to haunt them in their opener, Vanderbilt will certainly have chances to exploit them. Whether they take them up? Time will tell.
2. A tangled Webb we weave: The standout from the Commodore offense last week was running back Ralph Webb. The junior tailback from Gainesville ran for 97 yards on merely 20 attempts, amassing a mark of 4.8 yards per carry. MTSU ranked 100th in S&P+ against the run last season but it should be noted that those aforementioned linebackers are now gone and Webb could again make an impact at the second level if he’s given opportunities to.
3. INT luck?: As Team Speed Kills/Anchor of Gold writer Tom Stephenson pointed out in his statistical analysis of last week’s South Carolina-Vandy encounter, the Commodores had zero interceptions and eight pass breakups. Will some luck swing their way this week? They’ll face a quarterback coming off a five touchdown performance and so while it’s not guaranteed, Vandy’s defense is leaps and bounds better than Alabama A&M’s is. Maybe the Commodores defense can score some breaks in the interception department to improve their TO differential, which already is at +2 after last week.