KICKOFF: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
SITE: LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.
SERIES: Ole Miss leads the series with Vanderbilt 48-38-2 and has won 14 of the last 21 meetings. The Rebels won last year's game 39-35 in Nashville. This year's contest will played at LP Field, home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans.
RANKINGS: Ole Miss 15th
KEYS TO THE GAME
Ole Miss has seen the film. It's not changing the Rebels' collective opinion of their opponent this week.
No. 15 Ole Miss (1-0) will travel to Nashville on Saturday to open Southeastern Conference play against Vanderbilt (0-1). The teams began their respective seasons in drastically different ways.
The Rebels overcame a slow start to pull away from Boise State, 35-13, with the help of four fourth quarter touchdowns. Vanderbilt's offense never came close to that kind of production against Temple, mustering just one score and committing seven turnovers in a 37-7 loss that soured the debut of head coach Derek Mason.
Ole Miss watched the Commodores' struggles during film study. The Rebels saw three different quarterbacks -- Patton Robinette, Stephen Rivers and Johnny McCrary -- combine for three interceptions and Vanderbilt hand Temple short fields with a handful of other miscues.
The Rebels are taking it as a lesson that anything can happen on any given week.
"We're not going to overlook them," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. "We'll get (our players) ready. It's an SEC football game on the road, which is always difficult, and they have really good players, particularly on the defensive line, which is a good place to start in this league."
It's also the area of Vanderbilt's team that caught the eye of Rebels' coaching staff the most. Despite the lopsided score, the Commodores only allowed 351 total yards. Temple finished with 144 rushing yards but needed 45 attempts to get there -- an average of 3.2 yards a carry.
Keeping the Commodores' defensive line out of the backfield is the chief concern for Ole Miss' offense, which struggled to piece together any kind of running game last week against the Broncos with 71 yards on the ground.
"The defensive front for them is very talented and very physical as are their linebackers," Freeze said. "They have a good scheme."
Said running back I'Tavius Mathers, "They're pretty good at what they do."
If you'd told almost anyone that Vanderbilt would manage just seven points and 278 yards against a Temple team that yielded figures of 29.8 and 474, respectively, in 2013, no one would have believed you. Yet after Week 1, the Commodores are 0-1 because it's true.
Worse, Vandy's only points came when the Temple punter dropped a snap in the end zone, and Oren Burks pounced on it.
The most important number of the ballgame, though, was another seven. That's how many times the Commodores turned the ball over, including a fumble by backup quarterback Steven Rivers that was returned for a touchdown.
The good news is that first-year coach Derek Mason knows the 'Dores are capable of much better.
"It's all fixable. It's a first game, you play them, you learn from them and then you say to yourself 'how do you get better?' I've never been involved in a seven turnover game before. For us, I don't think that's who we are but once you put it on tape you have to go out and get it corrected," Mason said on Tuesday.
The other issue was quarterback play. With the offense sputtering under starting quarterback Patton Robinette, Mason turned to Rivers in the first half, but the junior, making his VU debut, fumbled away six points within the half's final minute, putting VU down 21-7 at the break.
Mason then turned to redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary, whom many thought would win the job out of camp. McCrary was intercepted on two of his three passes, prompting Mason to go back to Rivers.
Mason had implied last week that Robinette wouldn't be on a short leash before last week's game, and when he yanked him in the second quarter, it raised some eyebrows. This week, Mason said that he'd not decided on a starter, that it would be a game-by-game situation this year, and suggested that the staff would keep that announcement to itself ahead of time.