NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt hits the road this weekend to take on SEC West Division rival Ole Miss.
The Commodores (1-3, 0-2 SEC) will be going for a second straight win this season and a second straight win over the Rebels (2-3, 1-1 SEC). Vandy is coming off a 24-18 win at home over Northern Illinois last week.
Here is how to tune in to Saturday’s contest as well as five key matchups to watch in Oxford, Mississippi:
When: Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CT
Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Television: SEC Network
Broadcast Crew: Tom Hart (play-by-play), Jordan Rodgers (analyst), Cole Cubelic (sideline)
Streaming: Available via the WatchESPN app
Radio: Vanderbilt radio network WLAC AM 1510 Nashville; SiriusXM 202 (Vanderbilt feed)
Weather: 85 degrees at kickoff, no forecast of rain and sunny
1. Vaughn at the Vaught
Just hours after the birth of his first son, Ke’Shawn Vaughn had his best game of the season last week with 138 yards rushing on 17 carries against Northern Illinois. But the senior will face a tougher test in the Ole Miss rush defense.
Ole Miss is allowing just 106.8 rushing yards per game and in three contests this year has limited the opponent to 70 rushing yards or less.
Vaughn totaled 127 yards in last year’s matchup and this week will have his starting offensive line in front of him for just the second time all year.
2. Secondary Has to be Primary
The numbers for Vanderbilt’s pass defense do not look impressive at the moment. Some of that, however, is due to Vandy’s defense having faced some of the nation’s top quarterbacks and two of the nation’s top overall teams.
Vandy’s secondary has also had to mix and match personnel due to multiple injuries.
Ole Miss ranks 78th nationally having thrown for 224.6 yards per game. The Rebels may also turn to a more run-based quarterback Saturday.
If the Commodores can put together their best game of the season defending the pass then that bodes well for a road victory in conference play.
3. Picking Out Pinkney
Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney has yet to find the end zone in 2019. Getting the senior more involved in the passing game would be a big lift for the Commodores’ offense.
Pinkney had only one catch for a single yard last week and now has 10 receptions for 120 yards through four games. Last year the Norcross, Georgia, product made six grabs for 85 yards in Vandy’s victory over Ole Miss in Nashville.
4. The Red Zone
Vanderbilt has converted just 72.7 percent of the time inside the 20-yard line season – that ranks 112th nationally. Of the team’s eight scores in that area, only five have been touchdowns.
Conversely, Ole Miss has scored 88.89 percent of the time in the red zone (37th nationally).
Thus, it’s imperative Saturday that if the Commodores can venture inside the Ole Miss 20 that they come away with points. Slowing down the Rebels in that territory will be just as important.
5. QB = W
Vanderbilt’s Riley Neal will start his fifth straight game for the Commodores and that should give Vandy somewhat of an advantage Saturday. The graduate transfer has upped his completion percentage to 62.2 percent and is on the verge of going over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
The Rebels may play two quarterbacks Saturday – both of whom are freshmen. Matt Corral did not play for Ole Miss is last week’s loss to Alabama while John Rhys Plumlee threw for 141 yards and rushed for 109 more.
Whichever team gets the best play out of that quarterback spot may end up on the winning side of the equation.