Which SEC team should be on upset alert this weekend?
Neither Vanderbilt nor Texas A&M enter this weekend among the ranked SEC teams.
However, the visiting Aggies are considered 6.5-point favorites against the Commodores, according to VegasInsider.com.
Here are three reasons why Vanderbilt could pull off the upset as home underdogs this weekend:
Vanderbilt has not been a pushover when it plays at home this season, especially in the second half of the season.
The Commodores are 3-2 in Nashville, Tenn. this season and 3-0 over their last three contests. That includes three consecutive victories over SEC foes, encompassing games over both Missouri and Kentucky.
Vanderbilt has been favored twice this season and has covered in all five games played in the friendly confines of Dudley Stadium. As less than a touchdown underdog at home, history suggests Vanderbilt will give Texas A&M a run for its money.
Vanderbilt’s unheralded defense
When it comes to the SEC’s great defense, it’s customary to bring up Alabama and Florida. Even Mizzou and Mississippi have been mentioned in that conversation.
But left out, and often disrespected, is Vanderbilt, which owns the SEC’s fourth-best unit as far as points allowed this season. The Commodores have allowed 17.4 points per game and only 15.8 points per game over their last six since the start of October.
Three times in that span Vanderbilt held opponents to fewer than 13 points, and that includes limiting Missouri and Florida to single digits.
Last week, the Vandy defense put forth arguably its best performance of the season in a 17-14 victory over Kentucky. The Commodores held to their strength, continuing to flex their top-ranked third-down defense by limiting the Wildcats to a 25 percent third-down conversion rate and a 33 percent fourth-down conversion rate.
They allowed three scores in six red-zone possessions and forced two stops when Kentucky had the ball at the Vanderbilt 1 and 3-yard lines.
As steady as the Vanderbilt defense has been throughout the season, the same can be said for the Texas A&M defense, particularly as it pertains to the run.
However, the Aggies’ consistency applies to how bad they have been at stopping the run.
Texas A&M has allowed opponents to rush for 100 yards in consecutive games. In six of those games — five against SEC foes — A&M has given up more than 200 yards on the ground, including the 311 in its last outing in SEC play against Auburn on Nov. 7.
That defensive inefficiency plays right into Vanderbilt’s hands.
Led by Ralph Webb, Vandy has amassed more than 100 yards rushing in every game this season. Webb alone has accounted for 90 yards or more on the ground in six of Vanderbilt’s last seven games, including a combined 231 yards in the past two tilts against Florida and Kentucky.
As far as strengths against weaknesses go, perhaps there will be no matchup more significant to this Saturday’s outcome to Webb and Co. against the A&M defense.