Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Date and Time: Saturday, September 23, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN
Opening College Football Odds: Alabama -18.5
Alabama vs. Vanderbilt TV Coverage: CBS
The Tide are still rolling at this point and are deserving of being the No. 1 team in America, but they aren't covering these huge point spreads that they're up against thanks to the bias of all of the top online sportsbooks.
Nick Saban won't be thrilled with his defense allowing 23 points to Colorado State last week. That said, the team was good on offense, and Jalen Hurts was efficient as usual. In the end, it was the size and strength of the Crimson Tide that wore down the Rams. That's nothing to be ashamed of, as there are plenty of SEC teams who end up with the exact same fate.
You have to go back to 1946 to find the last time the Commodores had beaten a non-conference team ranked in the Top 25. All of that is history now. The 'Dores took care of business against Kansas State 14-7 on Saturday in a defense slugfest that included a pair of fourth quarter interceptions.
Vandy is now quietly 3-0, though of course, it'll almost certainly be 3-3 after going through the gauntlet of Alabama, Florida and Georgia over the course of the next three weeks.
Still, this defense looks darn good through three games. Vanderbilt has allowed just 13 points in its first three games of the season, and opponents are averaging just 206.7 yards per game. Sure, it's early, and sure, the competition hasn't been great, but at least the Commodores are pointed towards a bowl game this year, and that's not a given every season in Nashville.
Matchup To Watch
We're not saying that Vanderbilt's pass defense is legitimately the best in America, but for the time being, it sure looks the part. The Commodores have five picks already this season, tied for ninth in America, and they continue to put a lot of pressure on the opposition while largely rushing just four or five men.
Even though Hurts is being talked about as a Heisman Trophy contender, Nick Saban isn't letting him do a heck of a lot with his arm. Hurts has attempted just 53 passes this year against his 36 runs, and he's been just as efficient on the ground (8.7 yards per carry) as he has as a passer (8.9 yards per pass attempt).
There's a reason why freshman Tua Tagovailoa was given a chance to play a little bit against Fresno State a couple weeks ago and why Saban is trying to get him on the field a little bit in every game when things are out of reach. There could be a day when he needs a better passer than Hurts, and the Hawaiian freshman might be the answer to that.
Alabama vs. Vanderbilt Free Picks
This just has the feel of one of these games where Alabama slowly puts the clamps down and ends up with a more impressive final score than you would think even if you watched the game. The Crimson Tide will probably punt the ball a lot in this one, but a touchdown here, a field goal there, and Kyle Shumur pooping his pants due to the fact that he's never had to throw the ball against a defense anywhere near this good will be the end game.
Slowly, 13-0 will become 20-0 and 27-0, and with Alabama "only" being asked to lay 18.5-points, we think it'll get the job done and cover this spread.
College Football ATS Pick: Alabama -18.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Alabama 27, Vanderbilt 0