The School: The University of Mississippi
Record: 5-5 (2-4 in the SEC).
Anyway, both sites agree Ole Miss has had the toughest schedule on the planet. The Rebels have played seven different ranked teams this season, along with live dogs Memphis and Georgia Southern. If Derek Mason had faced this schedule, we’d be blasting Kyle Shurmur’s body out of a spaceship to honor him in the proper Vulcan tradition.
Mascot: I’m pretty sure one of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to bring back Colonel Reb.
Location: Oxford, MS. A city whose excellent tailgating atmosphere is exceeded in notoriety only by its amazing comma.
Coach: Hugh Freeze. He’s courted plenty of controversy in recent years, especially after all those Laremy Tunsil PMs that suggested the blue chip lineman was getting paid by the Ole Miss coaching staff, but I think he’s clean. I mean, just take a look at his spotless record in his first college coaching stop, Lambuth.
Except you can’t because Lambuth University doesn’t exist anymore.
Concidence? I think not. #maeksyouthink
Conference: The Southeastern Conference.
For the record I am suggesting Hugh Freeze shut down an entire NAIA university to cover his tracks. Thank you and goodnight.
All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 50-38-2. That actually looks pretty good, until you realize Vandy started the rivalry with 19 straight wins over the Rebels. Half this team’s wins over Ole Miss came before World War II. Much like polio, Vanderbilt football hasn’t been nearly as successful after the 1950s.
In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 5-5! Robbie Caldwell has a win over Ole Miss. Derek Mason does not. This may be your last chance to match the accomplishments of a guy most notable for turkey insemination, coach.
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: It was the kind of moral loss Vanderbilt fans have learned not to obsess over, yet do anyway. Mississippi had just beaten ‘Bama and was ranked No. 3 in the country but struggled to put away the Commodores at home. Vanderbilt tied this game in the third quarter and trailed just 20-16 in the fourth when Jahmel McIntosh picked off a Chad Kelly pass and returned it to the Ole Miss 19.
Rather than score the go-ahead touchdown, Vanderbilt instead missed a field goal. The Rebels scored on the ensuing drive, and that was that.
But at least we got to feel good about this team right before feeling horrible.
Do They Run the Triple Option?: I was all set to make some kind of “no, but Chad Kelly’s out, so maybe they’d better!” lame joke this week. Then true freshman Shea Patterson came in, beat then-No. 8 Texas A&M, and may or may not have thrown a football to the moon.
Everything is awful.
Is Vandy Favored?: Absolutely not. But +9.5 doesn’t seem so bad, especially since the favorite is coming off a win over a top 10 team, and the underdog is the third entry in a list that reads Eastern Michigan, Delaware State, ____________.
Most Potent Offensive Threat: Drew Lock threw for 294 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week, so it’s probably fair to think Shea Patterson’s second start will be as solid as his first. Patterson carved up A&M for 338 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception for his team’s biggest win of the season. The Vanderbilt defense should be able to find a way to limit him in his second-ever NCAA game, but it’s also coming off its worst SEC performance of the season against a team that was winless in league play until Week 11.
Most Potent Defensive Threat: Defensive end Marquis Haynes was a preseason All-American, and he’s lived up to that building by leading the Rebels in sacks (six) and tackles for loss (10). Vanderbilt’s offensive line spent the fourth quarter against Missouri trying to coordinate the perfect mannequin challenge video, so if they do that again Maynes will feast.
Matchup to Watch: Kyle Shurmur vs. his offensive line. Shurmur got beat up in the fourth quarter of last week’s game and was sacked a season-high six times against a tough Tiger pass rush. Ole Miss will be able to push Vandy to the limit in a similar fashion. If the Commodores’ blockers can’t keep Shurmur upright then this offense doesn’t have a chance.
Interesting Fact: Jackson, MS is one of only four cities of the world sanctioned by The International Theater-Dance Committee to host the International Ballet Competition, along with Moscow, Russia, Varna, Bulgaria and Helsinki, Finland. Legend says that upwards of 15 people attend the prestigious event, held exclusively on Saturdays in the fall.
If Ole Miss wins, we: you know what? Don’t care. Five wins or six, Vanderbilt gets to a bowl. Beat Mississippi if you can, but everyone knows the only game that matters happens next week when a fanbase filled with people who changed their Twitter names to “Deplorable VAWWWWWL” in October infests Dudley Field.