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VANDERBILT AT OLE MISS

9/20/08

 

3* Vandy +7 over Ole Miss - Key Release - What's a team need to do to get a little respect? Often times, just 3 games into a season, you can say big deal, a team is 3-0. They haven't played anyone. Well, Vandy opened up by beating Miami Ohio and while that's no great accomplishment, let's not forget, they weren't expected to win. They followed up by beating South Carolina who, unlike their record suggests, is a good team and will be heard from again this year in the SEC. While the win over Rice may not seem like much on the surface, it was a Rice team that was averaging 49 points per game off of wins over Memphis and SMU and Vandy shut them out completely in the 2nd half.

Now Vandy travels to take on Ole Miss, a team that had the worst defense in the SEC a year ago, a team that has a new coach with new schemes to learn and a team that Vandy beat 31-17 last year. Yet Vanderbilt finds themselves in a familiar role. 6.5 point underdogs. Not only are they 6.5 point underdogs, the line opened up 4.5 and early bettors determined that was too low and have pushed the line two full points. Rodney Dangerfield would be proud. No respect I tell ya.

Sure, historically, this one has gone to Ole Miss. Ole Miss has won 12 of the last 15 in this series. But historically, Ole Miss was better than a 3 or 4 win team. In 2003 they won 10 games. Since then they haven't won more than 4 games in a season. Speaking of 2003 when they were 10-3, they only beat Vandy 24-21. In 2004 it took overtime to beat Vandy 26-23. In 2005 they lost at Vandy. In 2006 they won by a TD and last year they lost 31-17.

There is nothing in recent history, or in this years results that suggests this game this week will be anything but close. Vandy hasn't had a winning season in 25 years. However, as we pointed out in our season preview, every single year they are a tough out. They have taken Florida to overtime, they have beaten Georgia, South Carolina two years in a row, the list of close games and upsets goes on and on and that's in years that Vandy won no more than 5 games, often times 2 games!

They have already won 3, and with that comes confidence. When you win as a team, and start 3-0, you start to expect to win. Certainly if they go down here, it figures that they won't go down without a fight. Not to Ole Miss. Again, remember who we're talking about here. The worst defense in the SEC a year ago.

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The game plans of both teams going in are no secret. Run, run, run. Vanderbilt's young offensive line has been getting it done so far this year, moving guys off the ball and creating holes. Vandy has been able to run the ball and control the clock while Ole Miss has lost the time of possession battle every game so far this year. Logic tells us Vandy will be successful once again this week running the ball with QB Chris Nickson and RB Jared Hawkins. Run the ball, control the clock, shorten the game, keep it close. That's where we want to be when getting +7. Vanderbilt has been playing sound ball across the board. They haven't made mistakes, they haven't beaten themselves. They have depth on the defensive line allowing their starters to stay fresh the entire game and not tire out in the 2nd half which has long been a problem for them against SEC giants. They are the least penalized team in the SEC and are 6-1 against the spread the last 7 games against Ole Miss and 12-4 against the number as a road dog.

Ole Miss gets star defensive end Greg Hardy back this week however this week was his first in pads since the spring. Conditioning will be a factor. Ole Miss will be an improved team each time they take the field under new coach Houston Nutt. No argument here. This play simply comes down to common sense. There is nothing that suggests Ole Miss is deserving of being a 6.5 - 7 point favorite here. Quite the opposite actually. At the very least this game breaks down as dead even on a neutral field. So, unless you feel their 21-29 record at home this decade warrants a 7 point home field advantage, there's plenty of value in the line taking Vandy. Put another way, if the Ole Miss home field edge is a field goal, this line suggests Ole Miss would be a 4 point fav on a neutral field and a 1 point fav at Vandy.

Show us a football game where the talent level between the two teams is a touchdown or less and we'll show you a game that was decided by simple fundamentals. The team that makes the fewest mistakes, that team that doesn't turn the ball over, the team that is least penalized, the team that controls the clock and can run the football, wins the game.

For the first time in 24 years, Vandy is closing in on a top 25 ranking. They received 63 votes this week which places them at #26. A win here and, well, you guessed it, top 25. We've sounded like a broken record in the past by stating that when teams not used to being in the limelight, teams not used to winning, teams not used to beating certain opponents, that when they get these chances, they have to capitalize as there's no telling when those opportunities will arise again. We're not talking Florida and LSU here folks, who compete for championships every year. We're talking Vandy. They don't have to knock off a top 10 team to get there either. They have to beat Ole Miss. 3-9 a year ago. A team they have beaten 2 of the last 3 times they have played. This is within reach. At the very least this one goes to the wire. 3* Vanderbilt +7

 

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