On Thursday August 29, the Ole Miss Rebels are a three point favorite over the Vanderbilt Commodores in an SEC showdown. Ole Miss is entering their second season under coach Hugh Freeze and the step up in recruiting has created an atmosphere of high expectations. Ole Miss is slated to start three freshmen, including defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and slot receiver Laquon Treadwell.
Vanderbilt has established a tradition of opening the season with an SEC opponent. So they have been prepared to have a strong start out the gate. After winning nine games in 2012, this season could be even better. Overall, the schedule is not the toughest, thus if things fall right, they’ll have a chance to win 10 games. However, beating Ole Miss is imperative to having a strong season.
Ole Miss has a tremendous advantage at the quarterback position. Bo Wallace is going to be even more comfortable in his second year. He should be able to hit the ground running come Thursday night.
Vanderbilt is breaking in a new quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels to replace Jordan Rodgers. Samuels production will depend on how quickly he gets comfortable into the game.
The offensive key for Vanderbilt is to get the ball to Jordan Matthews early and often. He’s one of the top receivers in the country and should provide a mismatch in the Ole Miss secondary. With the loss of Chris Boyd due to legal issues, Vanderbilt has to find a second receiver to move into his position.
Will Vanderbilt be able to run the ball against Ole Miss’ defense? It’s exciting to see the debut of Robert Nkemdiche on the defensive line. While Ole Miss has numerous starters back, Nkemdiche is the player to watch.
Vanderbilt has a veteran group defensively, that includes 7 seniors and two juniors. Four of the seniors man the defensive backfield. Their experience is needed to corral the Ole Miss offense. They will be tested by Bo Wallace with an assortment of great offensive plays. Still, the Commodore defense can take advantage of Bo Wallace’s turnovers.
Verdict: The team that wins here will be on the right track for a great season. A loss is not a complete failure, but it will make it that much harder to earn double digit victories. Since Ole Miss has the veteran quarterback, they should have the offensive advantage, yet Mississippi didn’t fare well on the road last season. However, that could be contributed to the competition. How do you go against James Franklin and what he’s building? This game should be a close one.
Ole Miss 27