After a 55-3 loss to Alabama, followed by the first of two bye weeks, Vanderbilt is back in action at 3:00 PM Saturday when Ole Miss comes to town. Ole Miss is 5-0 and ranked 9th in both the AP and Coaches polls, but the Rebels have scraped by in their last two times out, a 35-27 win over Tulsa (in which Tulsa’s starting quarterback got injured) and a 22-19 win over Kentucky (in which Kentucky committed two late, dumb turnovers while trying to score.)
In other words, Ole Miss isn’t exactly an impressive 5-0. Still, the last three matchups in this series have gone the Rebels’ way: a 31-6 win in 2019 (which was roughly officially the point at which I was done with Derek Mason), a 54-21 win in 2020 (which Derek Mason was still coaching for some reason), and a 31-17 win last season (which, given the general state of the 2021 Vanderbilt and Ole Miss football teams, was kind of surprisingly close?)
What say the writers?
I keep trying to talk myself into Vanderbilt springing an upset here. There is enough going on here — from A.J. Swann looking like The Answer at quarterback to Ole Miss’ unimpressive performances against FBS teams not named Georgia Tech, to Vanderbilt being a solid 5-4 against the Rebels in Nashville since 2005 (and 5-3 at what’s now known as FirstBank Stadium) — for me to think that maybe, just maybe, Vanderbilt can pull this off.
Actually predicting that, however? No, that is a bridge too far. Vanderbilt comes in solidly covering the 17-point spread, but predicting a win over a top-10 team is like waving a middle finger at Vertigo, God of Insanity, and I will not do that. Hail Pinman.
The Pick: Ole Miss 38, Vanderbilt 31
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: You do not simply walk into Death Valley and come away with a win. It is a mystery why Tennessee is favored over LSU (+3) or why anyone thinks that playing in Baton Rouge at 11 AM is going to be easier than a night game, but these are things that people have actually written on Al Gore’s Internet this week. No, LSU is going to deflate Tennessee’s 4-0 record.
Andrew VU ‘04
This is one of those games where if you squint hard enough, and everything goes right for us, and Ole Piss coughs the ball up a few times, we could squeak this one out. I don’t think we’re deep enough into our rebuild for everything to go right yet. Instead, Swann shows some grit and puts up a few passing TDs against a pretty damned good SEC defense. Our defense, however? Intuition tells me we’ll be doing little more than saying Olé as the Ackbars sprint by us. We’ll cover, but barely. We just don’t have the speed to hang with their skill position guys. Yet.
The Pick: Vanderbilt 24 - Ole Piss 41
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: I actually have a tough time seeing any upsets this week. I suppose LSU could go run-heavy, and their defense could injure that Hooker guy... but no, LSU basically has no passing game, so I can’t see them keeping up with the Chuggers. Even though I don’t think it will happen, the most likely upset is Woo Pig Sooie over Clanga,
As I mentioned in the Mail Bag, I keep bouncing between a blowout loss or a tight battle. The more I think about it, which is not always to the favor of my predictions, the more I expect a result like last season. The Commodores were not within one score at any point after 12:51 remaining in the 2nd quarter but were also only down more than 15 for one drive before immediately answer to get it back to 14. They had a chance to make it a one-score game with about a minute left, but a Mike Wright interception (great catch to make it, too) ended any hope.
I can see Vandy getting down early but never being put away. A big play to get our hopes up is followed with a heat breaker or two that could make the score look worse than the game was. So, yeah, I am running last year back.
The Pick: Vanderbilt 17, Mississippi 38
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Arkansas over Moo State. I have no idea why I keep expecting the Hogs to have a breakthrough game, but it is bound to happen eventually. Playing against Mike Leach’s Air Raid is as good of a time as any for something weird to fall your way.
This tore the group chat apart all week. I accidentally convinced myself this is an Upset of the Year candidate. Think about it, Ole Miss played a couple of dud teams and eked it out against both Tulsa and a Kentucky team that had a harder time than we did against NIU. I think Ole Miss is slipping while we’re building, and coming off the bye week I think we have the upper hand. It’s going to be a good game.
The Pick: Vanderbilt 31 - Ole Miss 27
The SEC Upset Pick of the Week: Eh, I kinda think Georgia could keep wobbling and topple to the ol’ Tigers (orange and blue edition), and I already picked Vanderbilt to upset Ole Miss, but my real upset pick this week is the Tigers (black and “gold” edition) over the Gators. I have been low on Florida this entire season, and Missouri showed signs of life this past weekend. I hope y’all are ready for another ugly football game, because Missouri is winning this one late in the fourth.