This weekend’s only SEC showdown takes place in Nashville between the visiting Ole Miss Rebels and the Vanderbilt Commodores. Both teams opened their seasons last Thursday night, although each started its respective season on a completely different note.

Ole Miss overcame a sloppy start to blow away Boise State 35-13 on three Bo Wallace touchdown tosses in the fourth quarter. Vandy, however, started slow and ended slower, using three different quarterbacks in an embarrassing 37-7 loss at home to the Temple Owls.

Both teams will benefit from an extra two days to prepare for their conference openers.

The Rebels will use the extra time to sure-up their offense, which committed seven false starts in the game against Boise. Ole Miss also committed three first half turnovers, all Wallace interceptions, and led just 7-6 through three quarters before a 28-point fourth quarter explosion.

Needless to say, there is room for improvement on the offensive side of the ball, and head coach Hugh Freeze intends to address it with the extra time off.

“Offensively, we were totally out of sync the entire first half,” Freeze said after the game Thursday night. “They’re a good defense, but we also hurt ourselves quite a bit. We’ve got a lot to get cleaned up.”

Vanderbilt, on the other hand, stands to improve in just about every area after an all-around dud of a performance against the Owl on a rainy Thursday nigh in Nashville.

“We did not do a good job of executing,” Commodores head coach Derek Mason said after his first game on the job. “Offensively, we couldn’t sustain drives. We couldn’t find any rhythm. Defensively, there were too many plays. We didn’t do a good job of setting edges. We had seven turnovers. It was a rough night at the office.”

Vanderbilt was just 3-of-14 on third downs, had just 54 yards rushing despite home-field advantage and wet weather, and had the ball six fewer minutes than Temple. The Commodores used three different quarterbacks for the game, yanking starter Patton Robinette in the first half, and Mason did not give the most ringing endorsement of his starter in saying he “could be the guy next week.”

He and the other Vandy coaches will benefit from a few extra days to assess the quarterback position before opening SEC play against a ranked opponent.

What’s most important, however, is the Commodores put last week’s debacle behind them and turn the page to Ole Miss. Both teams are 0-0 in the conference, and both had extra time to prepare for this annual showdown. And as the old saying goes: there’s a reason they play the games.

“We lost a football game, it’s not the end of the world,” VU offensive lineman Joe Townsend said after Thursday’s loss to Temple. “We’re gonna watch the film, correct it, move on and get ready to play next week.” 

Saturday’s game between the Rebels and Commodores is scheduled for 4:30 PM ET at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans.