OXFORD — If there was ever a perfect time for Ole Miss to put its 24-hour rule into effect, this weekend seems like the perfect opportunity.
The No. 9 Rebels (5-0, 1-0 SEC) are coming off an emotional 22-19 victory over then-No. 7 Kentucky. It was a win that came down to the wire, as the Wildcats drove all the way down inside the Ole Miss red zone by way of a 51-yard catch and run and scored the go-ahead touchdown that was then called back due to a penalty before Rebels junior defensive end Jared Ivey strip-sacked Will Levis to finish off the game.
This weekend’s challenge doesn’t have quite the same cache — Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-1), while much improved in 2022, isn’t anywhere near the national rankings, hasn’t beaten Ole Miss since 2018 and has lost seven of the last 10 against the Rebels. The Commodores struggle on defense, surrendering 34 points per game, and are coming off a 55-3 loss at Alabama prior to their bye week.
But the Rebels know to take each game as its own test and to not overlook anyone. It was a lesson learned in last year’s matchup against Vanderbilt, a game that was sandwiched between a win over a highly-ranked Texas A&M team and the Egg Bowl. Ole Miss won 31-17, but it felt closer than it needed to be at times.
The Rebels were sure to enjoy the Kentucky win for a day, and then it was back to preparation.
“I wouldn’t say it’s hard. We kind of spend the 24 hours after the win, and then we’re right back to work on Sunday on our next opponent,” senior defensive end Tavius Robinson said. “We go over the film, we’re moved on from that. We just have to practice hard this week and come out with the same mentality for the next game.”
If there was ever an example that anything can happen on a given Saturday, last weekend’s matchup between Missouri and then-No. 1 Georgia is a good one to point to. The Tigers were massive underdogs but led for the majority of the game, only losing the lead to the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter in a 26-22 Georgia win in Columbia, Missouri. Georgia took the lead with 4:03 left in regulation. It was an unexpectedly close game, as Missouri was a nearly 30-point underdog.
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has consistently preached that his team takes each game at a time and, even further, each part of a given game on its own.
“Like I told them, I don’t think anybody thought Georgia was going to go in and struggle like they just did at Missouri. It happens every week. Every game is independent of each other,” Kiffin said. “Now we teach them, as you see in our games, every quarter is independent of the quarter before, let alone games.”
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