Southeastern Conference foes Vanderbilt Commodores (2-2) and Kentucky Wildcats (3-0) are gearing up for an exciting showdown this Saturday at noon, September 23, 2023 at First Bank Stadium in Nashville. As of this preview, the visiting Wildcats are favored by 13.5 points to win the match and keep their winning streak alive.
The most recent head-to-head encounter between these rivals took place in Kentucky in November 2022 when the Commodores pulled off an upset, securing a narrow 24-21 victory.
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Kentucky Wildcats have kicked off the new NCAAF campaign in stunning fashion, notching three straight victories against Ball State 44-14, Eastern Kentucky 28-17, and Akron Zips 35-3. Can they make it four in a row?
The Commodores Are Battling Turnovers
Vanderbilt opened the new season with two expected wins against Hawaii and Alabama A&M, but their defensive line allowed a total of 41 points against these underdog sides. The defensive leaks became more apparent in follow-up losses to Wake Forest 36-20 and UNLV 40-37. The lone standout for Vanderbilt’s defensive line has been linebacker CJ Taylor with 30 tackles and 3 sacks this season.
The Commodores had a golden opportunity to win last week’s duel in Las Vegas, having a 17-0 lead after the first fifteen minutes. However, Jacob Borcila missed a 33-yard field goal with only 40 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Quarterback AJ Swann suffered a blow in the first half but returned to the pitch and ended the match with 16 completions from 35 attempts for 296 passing yards.
On the offensive front, Patrick Smith is topping the ground charts, collecting 200 yards from 40 carries and scoring one touchdown. Sedrick Alexander is behind with 131 rushing yards from 31 carries, but added two touchdowns. AJ Swann’s favorite passing target is by far Will Sheppard who’s been on fire in the opening three weeks with 25 catches for 314 yards and six touchdowns!
Devin Leary To Lead The Offense
Heading into the 2023 season, Kentucky’s fans were worried about the offensive line which had very limited depth. One of the key guards Kenneth Horsey suffered an injury and most likely won’t be available for upcoming SEC matches. That didn’t deter the Wildcats from dispatching Eastern Kentucky and Akron Zips.
Another big question mark for the Wildcats revolves around the star QB Devin Leary. He had an average performance in the opening match against Ball State (44-14), with 241 passing yards and 18 completions out of 31 attempts. Leary spent a majority of the previous season on the injury list, raising questions about his form in high-stakes duels. However, his most recent performance against the Zips last weekend was much improved (16/25, 315 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT). This is why I am slightly surprised to see a somewhat low line on his passing yards (235.5) for Saturday’s clash against the Commodores. As mentioned above the squad from Nashville is struggling defensively, so going with the Over option enticing.
Leary’s favorite target Tayvion Robinson is currently at 14 receptions for 260 yards (18.6 per catch) and three touchdowns. If you are going for a same game parlay, definitely include him to score at least one touchdown against Vanderbilt.
Kentucky Wildcats at Vanderbilt Betting Predictions
The Commodores have historically struggled when playing on the road. Considering their current defensive vulnerabilities, I am leaning towards Kentucky to beat the spread in this matchup. The Wildcats are also looking to settle the score from last season when they lost to Vanderbilt at home.
Kentucky Wildcats To Win -13.5 (-110)
Devin Leary Over 235.5 Passing Yards (-110)
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