When Vanderbilt opens their season in front of a national TV audience for the second year in a row they will find themselves cast in a different role.
Last year the Commodores were a curiosity. Everyone knew something was happening under James Franklin, but the 'Dores were really just a side show as ESPN put a team considered as a potential national champion (South Carolina) as top billing in the contest. As Vandy fell to a 1-3 start the buzz kind of died and a few just assumed it was the same old Commodores.
Twelve months later though Vanderbilt has grown to star status. The 'Dores have the longest win streak in the SEC entering 2013 and are one of the programs that everyone has an eye on to see what will happen next. Please don't mention any of that to Franklin though. The result of all this is that Vandy was installed as a 6.5 point favorite for the opening night game over Ole Miss.
Since the May 1st odds unveiling the 'Dores have been bet down to four point favorites as punters have jumped on a Rebels team which finished the season pretty hot themselves. It is worth noting that Vegas typically applies a three point bias to the home team, so even with the betting down the Commodores are still slightly favored by the experts.
With almost three months between Vegas setting the line and the game kicking off, there is obviously plenty of water to pass under the bridge. Vandy still has to verify if Austyn Carta-Samuels is the answer at quarterback and the tailback rotation has to prove that their combined potential talent can replace Zac Stacy. You also have to take into account that the Rebels will have revenge on their minds in this one as they held a huge lead in Oxford before falling apart inexplicably against the Black and Gold tide in the second half. The returning Bo Wallace certainly gives them more stability in the quarterback position at this point.
This is a game that will deserve even more attention that it gets given as the season approaches. Both these squads, and their fan bases, are expecting big things from a couple of the SEC's fastest rising programs. In a week where the big guns often start out with cupcakes (Florida vs. Toledo, Missouri vs. Murray State) either Vanderbilt or Mississippi will make a huge statement on opening night.
Vandy favored in opener
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