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Better Know an SEC Opponent: The Ole Miss Rebels

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Vanderbilt faces off with cross-division rival Ole Miss on Saturday, and while the Commodores are 6-4 over the past 10 years in the series, few people are giving Derek Mason a chance against the #3 Rebels.

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

The School: The University of Mississippi

Record: 3-0 (1-0 in the SEC). Ole Miss was 9-4 in 2014.

Ranking: #3 in the AP Top 25 and #5 Coaches' Poll. They were only ranked 15th at this time last week, but that's what beating Alabama at home will do for you. The formulas have Ole Miss rated 5th in the Real Time RPI (Vanderbilt dropped from #107 to #111 after beating Austin Peay by 40 points, which should probably tell you how little we should value that win). They are ranked 19th in Warren Nolan's power rankings (Vandy is tied for #104).

Mascot: The Rebels. Or the Black Bears. Or just a bear named Rebel. Or, when fans are feeling particularly chippy, a 10-line character from the worst original Star Wars movie. Look how quirky our fans are, everyone! We're the Zooey Deschanels of the SEC!

Location: Oxford, MS.

Conference: The ESS-EEE-CEE. Not only are they in Vandy's conference, they're Vandy's designated cross-division rival, so we see these guys every year. That's a pretty plum cherry for the Rebels, seeing as a game against the 'Dores was essentially a guaranteed win from 1970 to 2004.

All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 49-38-2. The Commodores started out on a 19-0 run that lasted until 1939. By 1987, Ole Miss had taken the all-time lead in the series. As always, Vandy fans have Watson Brown to blame.

In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 4-6. Since 1991, every Vanderbilt head coach was recorded at least one win over the Rebels. That includes Robbie Caldwell, who only won one other game against an NCAA football program in his coaching career.

Pressure's on, Derek Mason.

The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Mississippi 41, Vanderbilt 3. Derek Mason responded to criticism that he had a quarterback controversy on his hands by playing Stephen Rivers through all four quarters of this blowout. That's like leaving your laundry out to dry during a tornado, only in this case your laundry can't throw a pass or read the play cards on his wrist.

And somehow, this was not the worst beating that an Egg Bowl participant hung on the Commodores in 2014. Teams from the state of Mississippi combined to outscore Vandy 92-3 last fall.

Is Vandy Favored?: Hahaha no. As of Monday, the 'Dores were a +25 point underdog.

Most Potent Offensive Threat: The Rebels are averaging 64 points per contest, so pretty much everyone. Chad Kelly has tossed seven touchdowns in his two appearances against FBS programs this fall. Seven different runners have punched in a score on the ground. If Vanderbilt holds the Rebels to fewer than eight touchdowns, it will be a below average night in Oxford. The true test of Derek Mason's latest coaching hire - defensive coordinator Derek Mason - starts on Saturday.

Most Potent Defensive Threat: Robert Nkemdiche leads Ole Miss in tackles for loss. He's also kind of mean:

Matchup to Watch: The right side of the Vandy offensive line vs. Ole Miss's front seven. Georgia took advantage of the Commodores' inexperience up front two weeks ago, loading up the box to put pressure on Barrett Gouger, Blake Fromang, Delando Crooks, and Justin Skule. Expect the Rebels to do the same, only with fewer All-SEC linebackers to blow up the Commodores' blocking.

Interesting Fact: If you're hoping that Ole Miss might be ripe for a letdown game after beating Alabama, don't get too excited. The Rebels notched a six-point win against 'Bama last season, then came back to beat #14 Texas A&M by 15 points the following week.

Bonus Fact!: Oxford is host to the annual Double Decker music festival, where every band appears to be made up of people who have strong opinions on free trade coffee and vinyl records.

If #3 Ole Miss wins, we: sit contemplatively, shrug. The Rebels are a very good - possibly elite - football team. If Vanderbilt can keep pace with them, especially on defense, then we can glean plenty of positives from a loss. If they suffer a 41-3 blowout, or if at any point Johnny McCrary starts looking like Stephen Rivers, then it may be time to reassess things.