#202 Vanderbilt +22.5 over Georgia 6:30 PM CT
Everyone assumes Georgia is going to be a top national contender this season yet they face a much smaller opening week price than some of the other top ranked teams. Being on the road for a SEC game to start the year certainly warrants a lower figure but it also isn’t clear that Georgia will be able to replenish the roster after losing a great deal of major contributors from the roster. Jake Fromm is back leading the offense but none of his top five receivers from last season will be there. The front seven on defense will also be tested. Georgia will be good enough in the running game to pull away from foes but modest scoring relative to the other top national contenders again looks likely. Vanderbilt must replace solid quarterback Kyle Shurmur but they have options to do so including transfer Riley Neal from Ball State. A Commodores defense that had the worst yardage numbers of Derek Mason’s five seasons has the potential to show improvement and in great contrast to Georgia the offense for Vanderbilt is one of the most experienced groups in the SEC, while Georgia ranks 14th in the conference in returning experience on offense even with Fromm. Last year’s game wasn’t as close as the final as Vanderbilt scored a touchdown in the final seconds to only lose by 28 but counting on Georgia to post a big score is wishful thinking even if they dominate the trenches. Vanderbilt has won convincingly as just a slight favorite in the season opener the past two seasons as Mason has had his team ready to go in Week 1 and the Bulldogs have covered in just one of the past four trips to Nashville. Vanderbilt was a lesser underdog hosting eventual national champion Alabama in 2017 while nearly a full touchdown less of an underdog hosting national runner-up Georgia that season. This will be the biggest home underdog spread for Vanderbilt since 2014 and Vanderbilt is on a 6-1-1 ATS run as a home underdog of at least 20 points but fewer than 30 points going back to 1994.
This line shot up from 21 to 22 and 22.5 and has simply sat there despite overwhelming action on the favorite as the oddsmakers seem happy to take in well over 80 percent of the action on the hefty road favorite. Week 1 road favorites of 20 or more points are on a 4-12 ATS run since 2010 with Georgia now the only team fitting that role with the Notre Dame line slipping downward.
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