By Adam Brown
Ole Miss returns home this weekend to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores inside the Vaught for homecoming. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.
Ole Miss (2-3, 1-1 SEC) looks to bounce back from a 59-31 loss to then No. 2 Alabama last weekend on the road. Against the Crimson Tide, the Rebels set a new season-high in rushing yards with 279. It was the most rushing yards allowed by a Crimson Tide defense since 2011.
Offensive Coordinator Rich Rodriguez’s offense has used the run, pass option (RPO) concept on 40.5 percent of their offensive plays this year – the most in the SEC.
Vanderbilt is 1-3 overall and 0-2 in conference play entering this week’s game against Ole Miss and is coming off their first win of the season – a 24-18 victory over Northern Illinois. The Commodores are averaging 366 yards of total offense per game, with 237 coming through the air and 129 yards per game on the ground.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach (Derek) Mason and Vanderbilt. Keyshawn Vaughn is one of the premier backs in our league,” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said. “They run around, play really well on defense. I’ve been impressed watching them on tape. This is a huge game for us, and we’re looking forward to a great atmosphere on Saturday in Vaught-Hemingway.”
The signal-caller for Vandy is Riley Neal, a graduate transfer from Ball State. Neal ranks six in the SEC averaging 214.5 yards through the air on the season. Neal is completing 62.2 percent of his passes on the season, with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Neal’s top target has been Kalija Lipscomb. The senior wide receiver has hauled in 23 catches for 268 yards and two TDs. Lipscomb ranks seventh in the SEC with 5.8 receptions per game. Junior Ke’Shawn Vaughn leads the Vandy rushing attack, averaging 99.5 yards rushing per game, the second-best average in the SEC.
Vanderbilt is second in the SEC and 15th nationally, only turning the ball over four times this season. Defensively, the Commodores are allowing over 501 yards and 39.0 points per game. Vandy gives up over 340 yards passing per game. Redshirt freshman safety Dashaun Jerkins leads the Commodores with 7.0 tackles per game.
Ole Miss and Vandy are meeting for the 94th all-time game in the series. The Rebels have a nine-game advantage of 49-40-2. The series took on a different meaning in 1989 when Chucky Mullins was paralyzed after making a tackle against Brad Gaines, which united the two teams in sportsmanship.
Fans can watch the action on the SEC Network or listen to the call on the Ole Miss Radio Network.