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Vanderbilt vs. WKU 2016 final score: 3 things we learned from the Commodores’ 31-30 OT win

The Commodores get a tough win over a good Hilltopper squad.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Find a way to win.

That’s what the Vanderbilt Commodores had to do to get a win over the WKU Hilltoppers in overtime to keep their bowl hopes alive as Kyle Shurmur kept the former in the game and threw the go-ahead touchdown to Nathan Marcus in the extra period.

Here’s three takeaways from the huge win:

1. The defense got the turnovers it needed. Despite giving up 496 yards of total offense, Vanderbilt managed to take the ball away three times, which is what you need when you play a potent offense like WKU. There isn’t another unit like this on Vandy’s schedule until the second-to-last game of the season against Ole Miss, so expect the defense to improve and play good ball as we head into SEC play.

2. Shurmur can keep the Commodores in some SEC games. He may not be the marquee quarterback of the SEC, but Kyle Shurmur managed the game very well and kept putting his team in a good position. With 279 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and 9.6 yards per attempt, he provided the steady play you need to move the ball consistently in this conference. Even though the Hilltoppers aren’t an elite defense, they’re a team that’ll probably end up in a bowl again this season, so the offense should be confident in their ability to move the ball.

3. Vandy performed well in the crucial situations. The offense went .500 on third down and 5-for-5 in scores in the redzone Saturday while the defense allowed three third down conversions and four red zone scores in six trips in the game. Vanderbilt can be a really competitive team in the SEC East if it can continue to win the critical situations during the course of a game.