Mississippi Rebels at Vanderbilt Commodores, 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Talk about two teams starting out the season with completely different viewpoints. Ole Miss came into the year with now fourth-year coach Houston Nutt and few hopes beyond landing in a late December or early January bowl -- but not a New Year's Day game -- in a small Southern city. Vanderbilt started out with first-year coach Jim Franklin and hopes that he could turn around there perpetual mediocrity. For Franklin, the early signs indicate it could be a mission accomplished. For Nutt, he finds himself on arguably the hottest SEC seat outside of Athens.
Which is odd -- because for Ole Miss, the season has gone pretty much according to script. BYU was a narrow loss, which most neutral observers expected to perhaps be even worse. And the Rebels pummeled hapless Southern Illinois, avoiding an FCS meltdown like the one that sunk them in 2010. That said, except for punting return numbers powered by the electric Jeff Scott, there's nothing that's really even average about Ole Miss' game.
For it's part, Vanderbilt has turned average into an art form -- at least on defense. On offense, this is still the Vanderbilt you remember slogging through games as the defense valiantly tried to hold up. And the Commodores are thriving at least in part because of turnovers, averaging a plus-two margin through their first couple of games. That's not sustainable, of course, at least not over a long enough time frame to grab the program's second bowl bid in more than 25 years.
That places Vanderbilt first in the conference -- but Ole Miss is in second, having a plus-one average over its first two games. The Rebel Black Bears might not be as good at Vanderbilt at cashing in those opportunities, or at least at cashing them in at the right time. But that doesn't mean that Rebels are any less lucky, just less opportunistic.
In the end, Vanderbilt defeated its mediocre Big East opponent and Ole Miss lost to its average independent mid-major foe. Both flattened their cupcakes. For me, that's enough to say that Vanderbilt is just a little bit better.
Vanderbilt 14, Ole Miss 10