Vanderbilt ‘loves’ playing Ole Miss as permanent cross-division opponent

Published 12:45 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2017

HOOVER, Ala. — Vanderbilt is Ole Miss’ permanent cross-division opponent in the Southeastern Conference, and that’s perfectly fine with the Commodores.

The teams will play each other every season through at least 2025 as part of the league’s new scheduling format implemented in 2014. Ole Miss leads the all-time series 50-39-2, and the teams will renew what’s been a competitive series of late when the Commodores make the trip to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Oct. 14.

Vanderbilt won three in a row before the Commodores ended Ole Miss’ three-game winning streak in the series with a 38-17 win last season in Nashville.

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“I feel like the Ole Miss game is always a really good competition,” Vanderbilt senior linebacker Oren Burks said. “I remember watching it in high school, and that was a huge game. Then my freshman year, that was a huge game. It was a Thursday night. We love playing Ole Miss. It’s great competition in the SEC.”

The Thursday game Burke referred to came in a nationally televised season opener for both teams in 2013, a game that was decided in the final minutes on Jeff Scott’s 75-yard touchdown run to lift Ole Miss to a 39-35 win. Four of the last seven meetings between the teams have been decided by two scores or less.

“They’re a very good team every year. Very competitive,” Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur said. “We look forward to playing them every year.”

Last November’s three-touchdown win for the Commodores was one of the recent outliers. Vanderbilt caught an Ole Miss team that lost five of its last seven games at a good time, but the Commodores thought they were due with four of their first six losses coming by a touchdown or less.

Vanderbilt won its final two games to qualify for a bowl for the first time under fourth-year coach Derek Mason. The Commodores hope for more competitive games with Ole Miss in the future as they try to continue building momentum in their program.

“We grew throughout the year,” said Shurmur, who threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns against the Rebels last season. “I think you saw flashes throughout the first eight, 10 games up to that point that we could do some really great things. It was a matter of consistently doing that and putting together good offense, good football. I think as we grew, we became more consistent. We look forward to doing that Week 1 this year and really carry that throughout the whole season.”