We are back with our weekly prediction series. Before we get into predictions for the upcoming matchup against LSU, let’s see how accurately the staff here at The Dore Report predicted last weeks tight loss against the Texas A&M Aggies.
Everyone starts out the season 1-0, but congratulations to James as he has taken a commanding lead through week 1. He was rewarded for being the only member of The Dore Report who had faith in the boys in black and gold.
Moving on to this weeks matchup against the shockingly 0-1 LSU Tigers, the reigning national champs lost in a high scoring affair against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Mike Leach’s SEC head coaching debut. Vanderbilt opened as 18.5 point underdogs. That line has now moved to +21, with 64% of the money coming in on LSU.
With an over/under of 50.5, bookmakers are expecting this game to be LSU 37 Vanderbilt 14.
Should be a fun matchup with the crisp fall air quickly moving into Nashville, too bad only select students are being allowed in the stadium *sigh*.
Before I get even more sad about not being able to attend Saturday’s contest, let’s get into our predictions.
This may be the toughest prediction of the season. The Commodores come off a solid performance, blowing expectations out of the water, while LSU is coming off a poor performance and dropping a game I don’t think many across the country thought would be very close.
There are two ways an unexpected loss for a team with national title expectations, such as LSU, can affect morale.
- LSU will be deflated. With a 10-game SEC season that is just odd to begin with, losing a game to a team like Mississippi State could make them think, “We blew it, no chance we run the table and get a shot at the SEC championship, much less a national title”. Even though that phrase would never be spoken by a player or coach, it is likely in the back of their minds.
- LSU comes out fired up. After a tough loss where they underperformed, the talented group comes out looking to crack some skulls, make a statement, and right the ship.
I am hoping for option 1, but we are going to have to wait and see and it should be apparent which way this LSU team is headed by the end of quarter 1.
With that preface, I think this is a tough matchup for the Commodores. While Mississippi State had a record breaking day in the passing game, their running game was pretty much shut down. The Bulldog Offensive Line also gave up 5 sacks.
After talking to Brody Miller, who covers LSU for The Athletic, the defensive line is a strength for the Tigers. While Vanderbilt’s O-Line played well last week, I expect this week to be a bit more of a struggle. The return of Keyon Brooks will be extremely helpful, but the offense will have to rely on Freshman QB Ken Seals to make throws in tight man-to-man coverage, which LSU plays a lot. Cam Johnson, Amir Abdur-Rahman, Chris Pierce, Ben Bresnehan, and the rest of the receiving/tight end group will have to create quick separation against LSU’s secondary. Getting guys open early and allowing Seals to get the ball out quickly will be something to watch early in the game.
Defensively I think the Commodores matchup pretty well. Obviously LSU is full of 4 and 5 star talent, even with a lack of experience. But the weakness of the LSU offense is an inexperienced Offensive line who lost 4 or 5 starters from last year’s undefeated team. Getting pressure on an inexperienced Tiger quarterback, making initial tackles, and continuing to create turnovers to generate good field position for the offense are the major keys on defensive side of the ball.
After all that information, I see LSU taking an early 10 or 14-0 lead. The Commodores defense stiffens up and LSU takes a 17-7 lead into half. Ultimately the talent level of LSU takes over the game, especially in the fourth quarter. Vanderbilt is able to keep it around a 10-14 point game until late in the 4th when LSU puts in a late dagger score.
I am once again hoping to end up very wrong.
This isn’t a great matchup for Vandy. LSU will be playing angry and Myles Brennan will connect on some crucial big plays. Vandy stays close throughout but LSU pulls away with a late touchdown to close out the win. Seals gets much better and Vandy earns more respect from the SEC.
If you only looked at the gambling lines heading into SEC opening weekend, you would have assumed Texas A&M blew out the Commodores and defending National Champion LSU cruised against Mississippi State. What a difference a week makes. Suddenly, this week two matchup looks a lot more interesting.
Freshman Ken Seals has a great opportunity to build on his impressive debut against a Tiger pass defense that, to put it mildly, struggled in their opener. MSU quarterback K.J. Costello shredded LSU for over 600 passing yards. While duplicating that feat may be a stretch, it would be great to see more big plays from a Commodore offense that was extremely conservative in the opener.
Vandy’s defense missed a few too many tackles Saturday, but it’s hard to be too disappointed with holding a high-powered offense like A&M’s to 17 points. The biggest difference in the defense from last year (so far) is this unit is actually opportunistic. The Dores struggled to force turnovers last season, which included only five opponent fumbles recovered for the entire year. They recovered three last Saturday. Vandy has struggled to produce impressive efforts back to back in recent years and now would be a good time to reverse that trend. While the Tigers are still far more talented and will likely pull away, the Dores have to potential to keep this one competitive for a while.
LSU is coming off of a historic season but has lost a lot of key components to its high powered offense, including Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Justin Jefferson, to the draft. On top of that, they lost 4 out of their 5 starting Offensive Lineman, along with opt outs. Their most notable opt out is their top receiver in Ja’Marr Chase.
Myles Brennan threw for 345 yards and 3 touchdowns against Mississippi State last week but was sacked 7 times. Vanderbilt’s defensive line was the highest graded defensive line of any power 5 school according to PFF.
On the defensive side LSU lost 2 senior defensive lineman from last years squad, along with their top pass rusher and the Thorpe award winner, Grant Delpit. They do return the best corner in college football in Derek Stingley Jr., he will be seeing his first action of the season, missing last week due to illness. On the flip side they lost a great secondary player in Kristian Fulton (Tennessee Titans second round pick). To round things off they lost their former defensive coordinator in Dave Aranda.
Was the Mike Leach led Bulldogs’ air raid that impressive? Or was the combination of everything above to blame for the SEC record 623 passing yards and 5 touchdowns given up by the tigers last week? I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Vanderbilt’s defensive line matches up well against this LSU O-line. I believe this is the key to the game. If we can get penetration and rattle Brennan early, as well as establish the run game early, I think the Commodores have a shot at surprising us yet again.
Ken Seals and Cam Johnson are on the same page this week, as cam catches 2 touchdowns. Seals looks impressive again and doesn’t let the early deficit phase him. Commodores go down 14-3 at half. A poised Seals dishes 2 second half touchdowns in the air and runs for another, already setting the bar high in a career day for the young Quarterback.
I’m going to be very optimistic here, and maybe the only one here at The Dore Report to give Vandy the edge. After all, someone has to do it….
The Commodores show some mettle and play tough with the Tigers. LSU pulls away late after a solid performance from the Commodore defense and QB Ken Seals. Despite a lack of fans in the stands, it will be an electric atmosphere Saturday evening on West End.
Vanderbilt’s 2020 home opener will be a somewhat closer game than most around the country expect. The Commodores get their speed back Keyon Brooks back in the rotation and he makes an impact early with an impressive run for a TD. Vanderbilt also adds a FG in the 1st half taking a 14-10 deficit to the locker room on Saturday night in Nashville. Ken Seals comes out and finds Cam Johnson in the end zone after delivering a beautiful ball. LSU would eventually respond and take control of the game late in the 3rd and eventually to the end of regulation on West End.
I’m going with the big upset here. Vanderbilt’s defense looked good last week and clearly are a very well coached team. LSU’s offense looked very poor last week and struggled to move the ball. Their defense looked pretty good, but with Stingley back this week it’ll be much harder to move the ball. This will be a defensive showdown, but Vanderbilt has a couple late scores to win the game.
LSU comes out with a chip on their shoulder after their loss to Mississippi State last week. Vanderbilt, though showing flashes, can’t get their offense going. LSU goes up early and doesn’t look back.
LSU is put on upset alert by 2, while the other 6 expect LSU to get back on track.
Looking forward to watching game 2 from Ken Seals and company. Let us know how you think the game will go on Twitter @Dore_Report
As always, Anchor Down