Ever since I can remember being a follower of Ole Miss football, I do the same thing that any other fan does before the season starts: I take a schedule, and map out where the wins and losses will come from. And, without hesitation, Ole Miss fans always count Vandy as a win.
David Cutcliffe spoiled the fun as far as games with Vanderbilt go. Granted even though Ole Miss owns the overall series relatively significantly, the Commodores have taken six of the last ten games; at least four or five of those games I chalked up as a win before the game occurred. We’ve all done the same here. The Vegas line is already up to Ole Miss -20.
The line may be large, but it is reasonable. Ole Miss may not be as good as their final score, 35-13, against Boise State; Vanderbilt may not be as bad as their 37-7 loss to Temple . . . but it may not be that far off. That said, only one time, the 2011 rout of Ole Miss and Houston Nutt in an opener in Nashville, has a Rebel/Dore game ever gone larger than a 20 point differential (30-7).
As Hugh Freeze said of playing in Nashville,”They’ve always played us tough up there, for whatever reason.”
My point is this game has a tendency of being a lot closer than it should, or at least more surprising than it should. After a weird week one win over Boise State, this will certainly be a message game for Ole Miss. Will Dr. Bo Wallace and company let the ‘Dores hang around late in this one? Or will it be another four quarters of what we saw in the latter part of the Boise State game.
The script could not be written any better for the team from Oxford to walk into LP Field and dominate. A high-powered Ole Miss offense will stroll into the same town where Temple just put 37 points on the board. The star-studded defensive line for Ole Miss could have its way with what was supposed to be a veteran offensive line for Vanderbilt; they had real trouble last week. Not to mention, no one is sure who is going to take snaps yet for the black and gold, but whomever it may be is not going to be very experienced, which leaves me to believe some turnovers and sacks are imminent.
It’s hard to see where any real advantage for Vanderbilt comes. The one hole – statistically speaking – for Ole Miss in Atlanta was the lack of the run game. The ground attack was an afterthought throughout the first half. When it was said and done the Rebs averaged 2.3 yards per carry and racked up a not-so-impresssive 71 yards. Here’s the kicker: Vanderbilt only gained 54 against Temple. Whelp.
There are no easy games in the SEC, which is why Hugh Freeze gets paid $100,000 for winning them. However, if there ever were one, this would be it. Vanderbilt is going to play better against Ole Miss than they did against Temple; it would be hard for them not to. The question really is, will Ole Miss play up or down to Vanderbilt? It will certainly be an interesting thing to watch.
Not to jump too far ahead, but if Ole Miss wins this one, the following two games against Louisiana-Lafayette and Memphis could set up quite the matchup between two potentially 4-0 teams on October 4th in Oxford when Alabama rolls into town.
*Section Photo credit to Jae S. Lee, The Tennessean; Featured Photo (above) credit to Frederick Breedon, Getty Images