Rapid Reaction: Vanderbilt bashes Ole Miss to move closer to bowl berth
Ole Miss’ roller coaster season continues. Vanderbilt ended a two-game losing streak and got closer to ending a two-year bowl drought and giving Derek Mason his first bowl.
The Commodores beat again-reeling Ole Miss, 38-17, behind balanced offense and attacking defense. A week after Ole Miss freshman Shea Patterson took college football by storm, Vanderbilt took him and the Rebels by storm and dominated in a fashion few saw coming.
What it means
The winner and loser have huge games in a week with postseasons on the line. Ole Miss (5-6) will go into the unpredictable Egg Bowl against Mississippi State with five wins, a loss away from missing a bowl for the first time in Hugh Freeze’s five seasons. Vanderbilt (5-6) will host Tennessee with a chance at six wins and its first bowl game in three years. The Commodores had lost two straight, but offensive numbers have gotten progressively better. The Commodores are probably better than you think. They have five single-digit losses.
What I liked
Patterson had the headlines. Vanderbilt had the plan. The Commodores’ offensive plan bombarded a battered Ole Miss defense. Vandy QB Kyle Shurmur threw for 273 yards and 2 touchdowns on 17-of-30 passing. Vandy went to the run for the scores, touchdown runs of 4, 11 and 1 for Ralph Webb. The team rushed for 208 yards on 46 carries. The defense got after Patterson. After the freshman broke onto the scene in a surprising win the week before at Texas A&M, the Commodores beat him up, hard hits in the first half from Jordan Griffin and Jonathan Wynn, taking a minute to get up after the hit from Wynn. At the half, Patterson was a human-like 11-of-19 for 112 yards and a touchdown. He finished with 222 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20-of-42 passing, but even when scrambling from pressure, Vandy’s secondary stayed put and limited his output.
What I didn’t like
That Ole Miss had a chance to turn its disappointing season around and didn’t show up on any level. The Rebels sank from ranked contender to bottom-dweller over the course of the SEC season. After Patterson’s performance a week earlier in College Station, he is clearly a playmaker. But Saturday, he looked like the true freshman he is, running around wildly and not making enough plays. His defense did him no favors. Vanderbilt entered the week last in the SEC with 322 total yards per game. The 481 Ole Miss allowed was the second-most of the season for Vandy, passing yards the second-most and rushing yards the third-most. The 38 points were the most in SEC play since 2012. Ole Miss will go into the Egg Bowl with Patterson bouncing back from his first poor outing and without leading tackler DeMarquis Gates for a half. Gates was tossed Saturday for targeting.
Who’s the man
Webb was efficient and effective, rushing for 123 yards and 3 touchdowns on 20 carries. He is now 27 yards from breaking the school’s rushing record.
A 31-yard run from Webb told the tale. Vanderbilt led 31-17 and immediately after forcing a three-and-out, Ole Miss gave up a 31-yard run to Webb, who went over 100 yards on the carry. It led to Bailey McElwain’s touchdown catch for a 38-17 lead.