Week 7 College Football Free Pick - Vanderbilt at Ole Miss
CFB Free Pick: Vanderbilt +3 at Ole Miss (Covers 53.8%)
After starting the season with a two-game home stand against softer competition, Ole Miss just wrapped up a three-game road trip over the past four weeks in which they were outscored 137-42 by California, Alabama and Auburn. Vanderbilt raised some eyebrows with their 14-7 win over Kansas State a month ago, but they too just ran through an SEC gauntlet. Losses to Alabama (59-0), at Florida (38-24) and to Auburn (45-14) have dropped their record to 3-3 and fifth in the SEC East.
Because both teams struggle to run the football (127th & 128th out of 130 schools) and score points, this matchup could come down to the Commodores defense against the Rebels pass offense. Ole Miss sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson averages 358 pass yards per game – which was only slowed by Alabama's defense (165) – 8.9 YPA with a 13:6 TD:INT ratio. He'll face Vandy's fourth-ranked pass defense, which has allowed only 140 pass yards per game (5.7 YPA), picked off five and held opposing QB's completion percentage to just 54.4%.
The Commodores pass rush has 14 sacks in six games, while the Rebels o-line has allowed 14 in five. Vandy also boasts the advantage in turnover margin at +3 compared to Ole Miss' (-4) who tend to be a little more careless with the ball.
While Vanderbilt's offense is far from elite – 127th in rushing and 88th in passing – Ole Miss has allowed 6.3 yards per play this season (111th) and the Commodores have converted 12 of 14 red zone trips – all touchdowns. Senior running back Ralph Webb - who has struggled this season at 2.8 YPR - produced his best game of 2016 against the Rebels when he rushed 20 times for 123 yards (6.2 YPR) with three touchdowns.
According to 50,000 games played by our simulation engine at PredictionMachine.com, Ole Miss wins over Vanderbilt 55.5% of the time by an average winning score of 27.6 to 26.4. As a three-point underdog losing by an average of just 1.2 points, Vanderbilt covers the spread 53.8% which would justify a $15 wager for an average $50 bettor.