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Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt Prediction: Picks, betting odds, analysis, more

 Billy Jones   in Football

Ole Miss will look to keep its positive momentum and New Years’ Six hopes alive as it hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday. Commodore coach Clark Lea hopes that a victory over the 10th-ranked Rebels can jumpstart the Vanderbilt program.

When Vanderbilt has the ball

Vanderbilt’s pro-style offense has struggled for much of the season as it has struggled to find a quarterback to run the offense.

Both Ken Seals and Mike Wright took snaps last week, with Wright managing to throw for two touchdowns in last Saturday’s game against Kentucky; however, Lea, had started Seals, so it remains to be seen who the signal-caller will be on Saturday.

Lea refused to name a starter ahead of Saturday’s game, so it could be possible that both will see action. Or, he is simply playing mind games with Ole Miss defensive coordinator DJ Durkin.

Despite Vanderbilt’s unpredictability at quarterback, its offensive personnel everywhere else has been relatively predictable. Vanderbilt played almost exclusively "11" personnel (1 running back and 1 tight end) last week against Kentucky as it has most of the season. Still, offensive coordinator Joey Lynch often flexed the tight end out to the slot.

The mix between a tight end playing as an H-Back or a wide receiver could be problematic for the Ole Miss defense. Kentucky countered the Vanderbilt offense by simply moving safety Cedric Dort to the slot or into the box.

Dort was able to stop the run and the pass. However, Ole Miss lacks a hybrid player with the versatility of Dort. Ole Miss constantly switched personnel between 3-4 and 3-3-5 last week against Texas A&M and had difficulties stopping the run against "11" personnel which Vanderbilt could exploit.

If Ole Miss can stop the run with five defensive backs as Kentucky could, it should have a much easier time defending the Vanderbilt offense, but if not, the Commodores could move the ball efficiently against the Rebel defense.

When Ole Miss has the ball:

Lea will have his work cut out for him as he seeks to slow down Ole Miss’s warp-speed offense that moved the ball for over 500 yards against a stingy Aggies defense last week. 

Coach Lane Kiffin mixed in a great deal of motion against Texas A&M, which may continue this week against Vanderbilt. The movement was not limited to tight ends as running backs, and wide receivers were moving pre-snap on almost every play.

Ole Miss’s strength on offense comes from its balance which, as Lea emphasized, meaning, Vanderbilt will need to stop the run.

However, Vanderbilt’s defense has had trouble stopping the run all season, even when the scheme indicates that it should be able to. 

Against a Kentucky team that rarely had more than one tight end in the game, Vanderbilt gave up 234 yards rushing even when it sat in a 3-4 defense almost exclusively.

The inability to stop the run with four linebackers against Kentucky does not bode well for a Vanderbilt team that will have to try and slow down one of the most efficient running games in the country while trying to guard against one of the most prolific passers in the nation.

Lea has tried to help his defensive players stop the run, but it needs to stifle the ground game if they line up in a 3-4 to have any chance of competing against Ole Miss on Saturday.

Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt Prediction

Nick Cole and Christopher Smith share their Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt prediction and betting picks for Week 12 of the 2021 college football season.