The School: The University of Mississippi
Record: 2-3 (0-2 in the SEC).
Ranking: Unranked in the AP Top 25 and Coaches' Poll. Jeff Sagarin has Ole Miss rated 69th in his rankings (Vandy fell from 66th to 67th because, hell, at least they didn’t get shut out like Tennessee did against UGA).
Mascot: The Landshark. You did it, Vice Chancellor Marshall Henderson. Every game from 2018 on is going to look like a Chinese knock-off version of the Katy Perry Super Bowl halftime show.
Location: Oxford, MS. One thing we don’t do is disparage the Grove. Fortunately that’s like, 0.0000001% of the state of Mississippi.
Coach: Oh. Uh.
It’s not Hugh Freeze. I know that.
It’s, uh. Oh come on, think.
I want to say ... Jeff? Is his name Jeff?
Oh shit it’s not Howard Schnellenberger, is it?
Whatever. This is the only time I’m gonna have to know his name anyway.
Conference: The ESS-EEE-CEE. Charter member, too. No matter what the NCAA does to them, they’re probably sticking around.
All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 50-39-2. Vandy got off to a 19-game winning streak in the series and STILL is -11 in the all-time series.
In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 4-6. Remember when Robbie Caldwell somehow beat these guys? I feel like that deserves its own episode of Mayday Air Crash Investigations.
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: A 4-6 Vanderbilt team earned an unofficial bowl invite and overcame a 10-0 deficit with 31 straight points to embarrass the Rebels in Nashville. Ralph Webb ran for three touchdowns and the Vandy defense held Ole Miss to 3.3 yards per carry in a game that seems much, much further away than 11 months.
Is Vandy Favored?: No. Ole Miss is a 4.5-point favorite despite the fact South Alabama is its best win and, if we’re using the transitive property and regular Alabama, have already lost to Vanderbilt -63 to -59.
Most Potent Offensive Threat: Vandy has given up 1,110+ rushing yards its last three games, so I’m just gonna say anyone with legs.
Most Potent Defensive Threat: About a third of defensive end Victor Evans’ tackles come behind the line of scrimmage, so expect him to be the latest opponent to stop Vandy for a loss of four on 2nd-and-1, or to generally make life uncomfortable for Kyle Shurmur.
Matchup to Watch: Ralph Webb vs. last Saturday’s brief resurgence. The good news is Webb had his best rushing performance of 2017 against Georgia. The bad news is he ran for 47 yards on 12 carries. The senior tailback rewrote Vandy’s record books his first three seasons, but hasn’t even approached Jared Hawkins levels in his final year with the ‘Dores. A showdown with a Rebel/Bear/Landshark defense that’s ranked 122nd in the FBS in rushing defense — Vandy is 120th, which...ugh — could be what he needs to turn his forgettable year around.
Interesting Fact: Guy Bush, the last pitcher to give up a home run to Babe Ruth, was born in Mississippi. His family, dealing with the shame of being a trivia answer, has since changed their surname to avoid embarrassment. Bush’s great grandson is currently a prospect in the Padres’ system. His name? Man Scaping.
Bonus Fact!: typing “people from Oxford, MS” into google brings up a list of musicians your drunk cousin tells you are incredible each Christmas before accidentally dropping a lit cigarette into his eggnog and swearing at a toddler.
If Mississippi wins, we: officially begin the panic. Vandy’s three-game losing streak came against three good-to-great teams in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Ole Miss is several leagues below good, which makes this a great opportunity for the Commodores’ first conference win of the season. Losing to Mississippi, even on the road, is a bad harbinger for Vanderbilt’s November — though it wouldn’t erase the team’s bowl hopes.