The Vanderbilt Commodores and Texas A&M Aggies are ready to kick off their season in an SEC matchup on Opening Weekend this Saturday. The Aggies are ranked 10th in the nation and will look to not fall for a trap game before traveling to Alabama next week and host the Florida Gators the following week. There will be a little bit of a home-field advantage for the Aggies this week as Kyle Field will be at 25% capacity, which brings the number to around 27,500 fans.
The Commodores are looking to rebuild their program without changing coach Derek Mason as both coordinators are in their first year in Vanderbilt. Ted Roof, the defensive coordinator for Appalachian State last season, will be the new defensive coordinator while Todd Fitch, who was the offensive coordinator for Louisiana Tech since 2016, will head the offense. Both teams have to deal with key players opting out of the season due to COVID concerns and this could be a different college football season than we are used to but it will be a fun matchup to see exactly what happens with so many question marks in the SEC in particular.
The lines have remained remarkably stable for this contest as there has been no movement whatsoever on the books. Texas A&M remains a hefty 30.5-point favorite in the contest. As it stands, the betting public gives the Aggies a slight advantage ATS as 52 percent of bets are on the Aggies to cover.
The total for this game has remained flat as well, remaining at 46 points. A full 72 percent of bets on the total feel that this game will end up over the total.
Game-time Weather: At kickoff, game-time temperatures are expected to be in the high-70s with clear skies. The temperature will fall slightly to the mid-70s as the game wears on. Winds are projected to come from the southeast around five to 10 miles per hour. The expectation is for a warm, dry evening as there is no precipitation in the forecast.
Opt Outs Hurt Weak Commodores OffenseThis is not taking a shot at the players that have elected to miss the season due to the COVID pandemic. However, the Vanderbilt Commodores are a weaker team now because of it and has to make life a little more difficult for coach Derek Mason. The Commodores will be without Cole Clemens, Jonathan Stewart and Bryce Bailey, three senior offensive lineman. This is in addition to their placekicker, senior Oren Milstein, opting out earlier in the month. It’s hard to replace three offensive lineman and a kicker but hopefully, this is the time some guys step up in their absence and make the most of the opportunity. Vanderbilt obviously isn’t alone in student-athletes opting out of the season but when you are in the SEC and haven’t had a winning season since 2013, it definitely hurts. Last season, Vandy ranked 115th in passing yards (172), 113th in rushing yards (124.7), and tied for 279th in points per game (18.0) so this offense is going to need to step up big time this season to improve those numbers under offensive coordinator Todd Fitch’s first season. The Commodores have not announced who the starting quarterback will be as they have four different guys. Freshman Ken Seals seemed to be the frontrunner before spring practice was shut down but whoever is taking snaps will have a less experienced offensive line to protect them.
OUT: LB Feleti Afumei, CB BJ Anderson, OL Bryce Bailey, OL Cole Clemens, S Brendon Harris, LB Elijah McAllister, K Oren Milstein, LB Michael Owusu, OL Jonathan Stewart
Kellen Mond to Take the Next Step?Kellen Mond is a senior and in his third season as the starting quarterback for the Aggies. It seems like we have a sense of his quarterbacking abilities as he produced similar numbers in his first two years. Mond is going to get around 3,000 passing yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions if he continues to produce how he has so far. In 2019, he finished with 2,897 passing yards which put him 15th in the nation. The Aggies were 64th in passing yards as a team last season with 235.4 per game and they averaged 29.5 points, which put them as the 152nd best offense.
It’s going to be a completely different offense after wide receiver Camron Buckley and tight ends Baylor Cupp and Blake Smith are all going to miss the entire season due to injuries suffered in camp. To add salt in the wound for the Aggies, their leading receiver last season Jhamon Ausbon announced last week he is opting out of the 2020 season to focus on the upcoming NFL draft. It isn’t a complete shock to the program as he was absent from preseason practices even though Jimbo Fisher will keep him on the roster. Altogether, they are missing 77 receptions from last season and 993 receiving yards from the receiving core that was expected to be there. It’ll be interesting how the opposing defenses plan around this and also how Kellen Mond responds in critical situations.
OUT: WR Jhamon Ausbon, DB Elijah Blades, TE Baylor Cupp, LB Anthony Hines III, TE Blake Smith
- Texas A&M: 5-2 at home in 2019
- Texas A&M: 14-2 against unranked teams since 2018
- Vanderbilt: 1-7 last year vs SEC
- Vanderbilt: 0-5 on the road last year
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Coming out with a question mark at quarterback means Vanderbilt can’t have a great game plan against this Aggie offense. The Commodores have been weak against their own conference while the Aggies have playoff aspirations. Losing three offensive linemen will be tough against an Aggies defensive front. The Aggies are 23-8-1 ATS in their last 23 games as the favorite. Texas A&M has lost key weapons already before their first game but in eight games last year where Kellen Mond threw for 250 yards, the Aggies were 6-2. This feels like a blowout for the Aggies that could be by 35+ points so go with A&M to cover the spread and dominate overall.
Prediction: Texas A&M -30.5
Full-Game Total Pick
This number feels high as the scoring is going be controlled by the Aggies but 13 points per quarter seems attainable in this game. The over hit in eight of the last 11 home games overall for Texas A&M so that gives confidence in the over being the play here. Any scoring by Vanderbilt should be an added bonus. The Aggies averaged 40 points against unranked teams last season so I feel confident in the play with more experience under Mond’s belt and a bigger running game this season.
Prediction: Over 48.5