Vanderbilt vs. Northern Illinois Odds, Picks: Back Underdog on Road in Week 3

Vanderbilt vs. Northern Illinois Odds, Picks: Back Underdog on Road in Week 3 article feature image

Carly Mackler/Getty Images. Pictured: Vanderbilt’s Will Sheppard.

  • After losing to Wake Forest, will Vanderbilt bounce back on the road against Northern Illinois?
  • NIU lost to Tulsa 38-35 and is 1-1 on the season.
  • Doug Ziefel breaks down the matchup and offers up his pick.

Vanderbilt vs. Northern Illinois Odds

Saturday, Sept. 17
3:30 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Vanderbilt Odds
-105o / -115u
Northern Illinois Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

We have a rare meeting on our hands as the SEC meets the MAC.

Vanderbilt and Northern Illinois have met four just times, and the Commodores have won every meeting with their latest victory coming in 2019.

However, oddsmakers seem to think the Huskies are bound to snap their four-game losing streak this time around.

Vandy is off to a 2-1 start on the season after winning its first two games in impressive fashion, as its dynamic rushing attack gave Hawaii and Elon fits.

However, that was not the case last week against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons blew the doors off the 'Dores, forcing three turnovers and torching them through the air.

As a result, many questions surround Vandy entering this matchup.

As for the Huskies, they come into this one off of a crushing defeat at the hands of Tulsa. The Huskies came back on multiple occasions, including erasing a 24-7 deficit, only to lose when the Golden Hurricane punched home the game-winning score with 58 seconds on the clock.

So, with both of these programs looking to get back on the winning track, who will come out on top? Let's dive in to find out.

Vanderbilt Commodores

Vandy lost in sizable fashion last Saturday. Its offense scuffled so bad that it prompted a change at quarterback.

Dual-threat Mike Wright was benched in favor of freshman backup AJ Swann. Swann's style is a complete contrast to Wright's, as he does not scramble and is much more of a pocket passer. However, Swann found plenty of success against the Demon Deacons, going 8-of-11 for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite Swann's success, head coach Clark Lea has already named Wright the starter for this matchup, and given the opponent, it's the right call.

The Commodores are going to have an edge in the rushing attack against Northern Illinois. Yes, the Huskies have allowed only 2.9 yards per carry through two games, but they're going up against a Vandy rushing attack that's averaging 6.9 yards per carry, which is fifth in the country.

Starting Wright makes the rushing attack much more dynamic, as we've seen how special he can be when carrying the football. Although, it's his backfield mate that made the Vandy offense what it is now.

Re'Mahn Davis was the lone bright spot against Wake Forest, but that was just the latest performance in his excellent senior season. Thus far, Davis has rushed for 269 yards while averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

Now, he'll face a defense that ranks 48th in Rushing Success Rate and 118th in Defensive Line Yards. So, expect Davis to have his name called quite a bit in this one.

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Northern Illinois Huskies

The Huskies have to be slightly disappointed with their season's start. They survived their opener against Eastern Illinois as big favorites before dropping a heartbreaker to Tulsa.

As the defending MAC champions, it's certainly not the start they envisioned.

This matchup will fall on the shoulders of quarterback Rocky Lombardi. The Huskies may be a team that runs the ball 57% of the time, but their success on the ground may be limited against a Commodores defense that ranks 25th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed.

Where Vandy can be had is through the air. It ranks 90th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and has almost no pass rush, ranking 125th in that category.

While Lombardi may have time to throw, completing passes on a consistent basis is no guarantee. The Commodores also rank 63rd in coverage, per PFF, and are 39th in opponent completion percentage allowed.

Vanderbilt vs. Northern Illinois Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Vanderbilt and Northern Illinois match up statistically:

Vanderbilt Offense vs. Northern Illinois Defense
Rush Success1448
Line Yards53118
Pass Success35113
Pass Blocking**6860
Finishing Drives20109
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Northern Illinois Offense vs. Vanderbilt Defense
Rush Success7025
Line Yards10188
Pass Success3190
Pass Blocking**35125
Finishing Drives1756
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling1694
PFF Coverage63123
SP+ Special Teams31100
Seconds per Play28.4 (105)29.7 (117)
Rush Rate57.2% (45)57.3% (44)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Vanderbilt vs. Northern Illinois Betting Pick

The market has come in on Northern Illinois since this line opened, as it's been pushed up to 2.5. But when you look at the matchup, it's clear Vanderbilt has the edge here.

The Commodores should be able to implement their top-tier rushing attack, which will not only be consistently successful but also keep the Huskies offense off the field.

While the Vandy secondary got shredded last week, there's a wide gap between Sam Hartman and Lombardi. Give me the Commodores as road dogs.

Pick: Vanderbilt ML +120 or Better

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