2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 3 - Ole Miss at Vanderbilt
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Sept. 17 at Vanderbilt 30 … Ole Miss 7
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Larry Smith ran for a touchdown, and Trey Wilson returned one of his two interceptions for a 52-yard TD as Vanderbilt scored 21 straight in the second quarter and beat Mississippi 30-7 Saturday in making James Franklin the first new Commodores coach to start 3-0 since World War II.
The win marks Vanderbilt's first 3-0 start since 2008 when the Commodores won their first bowl since 1955. The Commodores also beat Mississippi (1-2) in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams for their fifth win in seven years in this series.
Vanderbilt picked off five passes, all off Zack Stoudt, and Wilson's interception return for a TD is the Commodores' third this season.
The Commodores outgained Ole Miss 387-234 in total offense. Jerron Seymour's 9-yard TD run capped the second-quarter scoring for Vandy, and Zac Stacy also ran for 169 yards, including a 77-yard TD run.
Wayne Dorsey had one of the Rebels' two sacks and also caused a fumble, one of three turnovers forced by Ole Miss.
Ole Miss looked disorganized and kept hurting itself as three different offensive linemen false-started. One false start ruined a chance at fourth-and-1 at the Vandy 40. The Rebels then had to use a timeout with only 10 men on the field before punting.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt stuck with Stoudt, though he did play Randall Mackey. Stoudt came through with a 47-yard TD pass to Donte Moncrief with 2:15 left to avoid being shut out by Vandy for the first time since 1946.
The Commodores got going late in the second and took control.
Stacy picked up 26 yards after Smith handed the ball off to the running back using his left, non-throwing hand, almost directly behind him in a bit of nice misdirection. Smith finished off the drive on an option keeper for 19 yards and a 7-0 lead with 5:40 left in the second quarter.
Nutt rotated Stoudt back in on the next series. Facing third-and-15, defensive end Walker May hurried Stoudt into a throw that went straight to Wilson, and the Vanderbilt cornerback ran it back up the left sideline for a 14-0 lead with 4:39 remaining. It was Wilson's second TD off an interception this season and the third overall for Vanderbilt -- the first time the Commodores have had three of those in a season.
After another Ole Miss three-and-out, Seymour pushed his way in to finish off a 9-yard TD and a 21-0 lead that had Commodores' fans celebrating a rare early lead.
The Commodores picked up the scoring early in the third when a bad snap went over Stoudt's head on the opening series. Scott kicked it through the end zone for a safety and a 23-0 lead. The rout could have been worse. Stacy tried to throw to Smith in the end zone only to be picked off by Marcus Temple after the safety.
Ole Miss (1-1) at Vanderbilt (2-0) Sept. 17, 12:21, ESPN3
Here’s The Deal … Kentucky isn’t exactly looking like a BCS contender, but the loser of this game might get the dubious honor of being the worst team in the SEC. For each, this is a must win considering the bigger battles coming up, and it could be a defining game for both teams.
Ole Miss can’t seem to get going under head coach Houston Nutt. It was strong a few years ago with a 9-4 2008, but it was an inconsistent mess last season and started out this year by screwing up the home game against BYU in the final seconds. On the plus side, the defense has been terrific so far, but the offense has yet to find its footing and the passing game has yet to show up. For all the problems and all the concerns, the Rebels have a chance to go on a nice run if they can win this week, hold serve at home against Georgia, and take care of business at Fresno State before going into the abyss of brutal SEC West dates.
New Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin came into the job as a true believer who really and truly thinks the program can rise up and be relevant. So far, despite the lack of offense and despite the concerns in some key spots, he’s been right. While Ole Miss needs this win to avoid a potentially disastrous season, Vandy needs this win to avoid a possibly awful next several weeks with road trips to South Carolina and Alabama to follow, and with dates at Florida and Tennessee to finish up. However, if the defense can hold up against the run like it did in last week’s 24-21 win over Connecticut, and if it can beat Ole Miss for the fourth time in five tries, a bowl game might be on the table with home games against Army and Kentucky still to come. It’ll take an upset or two to get to a bowl, and the Commodores can’t afford to lose this.
Why Ole Miss Might Win: Vanderbilt might be playing better than it did in recent years, but it still doesn’t have any semblance of an offense. The passing game only came up with 141 yards against UConn last week and it’s not getting enough from the ground attack to balance things out, mainly because the offensive line has been a disaster. Quarterback Larry Smith is a scrambler, but the line has still allowed way too many sacks giving up eight so far while not doing enough to get the running backs moving. Despite the stats, ranking 80th in the nation against the run, the Ole Miss run defense has been solid so far, taking its foot off the gas against Southern Illinois after a big early lead. The Rebel defensive front is far, far better at getting to the quarterback than it’s looked so far. But …
Why Vanderbilt Might Win: … it hasn’t shown up yet. The run defense has been pushed around a bit too easily while the two sacks are inexcusable for a team with so much pass rushing talent. To beat win against most teams, Vandy has to 1) own the turnover margin, 2) keep the score low, and 3) capitalize on every break. Ole Miss hasn’t thrown a pick yet, but it lost three fumbles including the game-changer against BYU. The Commodore defense is tied for third in the nation with seven takeaways and is tied for the nation-lead with five picks, and it has to force the Rebel offense to screw up at least twice.
While the idea of emotion and confidence is often overused, in this case, it might make a difference. Vandy is acting like a team with attitude and it appears to has the same feel of the 2008 version that wasn’t very good, but found ways to win. Meanwhile, Ole Miss doesn’t seem to have a direction yet and is still trying to put the pieces together.
What To Watch Out For: The Vanderbilt defense has gotten all it needs out of Tim Fugger, who might finally blossom in his senior year if he can stay healthy. A 6-4 and 250 pounds he has a great frame to go along with the tools to be one of the SEC’s most disruptive forces, and he has started out red-hot with three sacks and a forced fumble including a strong performance to keep the Connecticut offense bottled up. The Vandy defensive front has come up with seven sacks so far, and if Fugger and the line can do anything to get to the Ole Miss quarterbacks, the timing of the attack will be destroyed. However, the Rebels have the offensive tackles to keep that from happening.
After a shaky first game against BYU, tackles Bradley Sowell and Bobbie Massie started to shine last week against Southern Illinois and gave the skill players time. It showed as Zack Stoudt completed 11-of-18 passes for 118 yards and a score, while Jeff Scott tore off 118 yards and three scores.
Scott came up with a strong true freshman season as a nice complementary back and a good fill-in when Brandon Bolden needed a break. The 5-7, 175-pounder is a scooter who was phenomenal late in the season on kickoff returns while averaging 6.5 yards per carry, and now he has to do even more with Bolden out with an ankle injury suffered against BYU.
What Will Happen: Ole Miss is better. The lines are better, the skill players are faster, and the talent level is higher. It won’t matter. The Commodores aren’t going to light up the Rebels, and every yard and every point will be like pulling teeth, but they’ll be +2 in turnover margin, will capitalize on both chances, and will come up with just enough stops in the fourth quarter to hang on for an ugly win.
CFN Prediction: Vanderbilt 20 … Ole Miss 17
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Ole Miss -1.5 O/U: 48
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