No. 15 Ole Miss heads to Nashville to play Vandy
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Mississippi Rebels are doing their very best to turn Music City into their home away from home.
The Rebels opened last season with a thrilling 39-35 win over Vanderbilt and wrapped up the schedule beating Georgia Tech a couple miles away in the Music City Bowl at LP Field, home to the NFL's Tennessee Titans. Now the 15th-ranked Rebels are back at LP Field on Saturday playing Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
''This will be my first experience playing there,'' Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. ''In our bowl game, we certainly traveled well to that field, and our fans always travel, so I expect we will have a very good representation there ... That would be nice if it does.''
The Rebels (1-0) are coming off a 35-13 win over Boise State in Atlanta, and this will be their second straight game away from home. This also is the second consecutive season Ole Miss has played Vanderbilt in its SEC opener and the sixth time in eight years.
The Commodores have used this game as a way to expand their fan base in Nashville, but tickets remained available Thursday afternoon.
''With Ole Miss having a decent fan base here in the Nashville area, it's going to be a great crowd,'' Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said.
Vanderbilt (0-1) desperately needs a win after being routed 37-7 by Temple in Mason's coaching debut. Some of the upperclassmen spoke to their fellow Commodores about the rivalry with Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt has won five of the last seven games in this series.
But the Rebels scored last a year ago, answering a Vandy touchdown when Jeff Scott broke loose for a 75-yard TD with 67 seconds left. It's a moment that Vanderbilt defensive tackle Adam Butler keeps thinking about over and over again, even though he was sidelined by an injury at that point in the loss.
''I always think about that last play,'' Butler said. ''If guys would've pursued and just contained that guy, we could've ran the clock out and won the game. That's the only thing I can think about.''
Some things to watch when Vanderbilt takes on No. 15 Mississippi Saturday:
HIGH-SPEED REBELS: With senior quarterback Bo Wallace and Freeze's offense, the Rebels can move pretty quickly. They also can score in bunches, putting up 28 points in the fourth quarter to beat Boise State. Mason said Ole Miss can run its offense at a variety of speeds from ''regular tempo to NASCAR tempo to a work speed tempo'' snapping the ball with 20 seconds and up to 28 seconds left on the play clock.
WALLACE WATCH: Wallace will have plenty of fans from his hometown Pulaski, Tennessee, about an hour's drive from Nashville. He is the SEC's top returning passer, and he threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns in the Rebels' opener. He also was the MVP of the Music City Bowl in his last game at LP Field.
VANDY QB: Mason is not sharing who his starting quarterback is until Saturday. The Commodores started Patton Robinette against Temple and yanked him after he was sacked three times. They also played Stephen Rivers, the transfer from LSU and younger brother of Philip Rivers of the NFL's San Diego Chargers, and Johnny McCrary. Mason says one or all three may play against Ole Miss.
TURNOVERS: The Commodores turned it over seven times in their opener, something Freeze says he doesn't expect to happen again. He also was impressed with how Vanderbilt held Temple to 2 of 17 on third down. Ole Miss' defense had four interceptions, but Wallace was intercepted three times.
SEYMOUR BACK: Both teams struggled running the ball in their openers. Vandy at least gets back Jerron Seymour back after he missed the Temple game recovering from an undisclosed injury. He ran for 716 yards and 14 TDs in 2013.
AP college football website: http://collegefootball.ap.org/
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