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Vanderbilt 27, Ole Miss 26: The Commodores are Going Bowling. Once Again

Vanderbilt is likely headed to their second straight bowl game for the first time in school history. Things look a little less bright for Ole Miss

Stacy Revere

First of all, let's get one historical footnote out of the way: This is likely to be the first time in which Vanderbilt will go to back-to-back bowls in the history of the program. But it is not the first time that the Commodores are bowl-eligible in back-to-back years. For example, Vanderbilt went to the Peach Bowl in 1974 with a 7-4-2 record, then went 7-4 in 1975 but didn't go to a bowl game. Remember, only in recent years has practically every bowl-eligible SEC team actually gone to the postseason.

Now that that's out of the way, we can congratulate Vanderbilt on what will likely be their first consecutive bowl seasons. They made it interesting -- at one point, the Dores were down 23-6 with less than 12 minutes left in the third quarter. Bo Wallace torched the Vanderbilt secondary; he would end up going 31-of-49 passing for 403 yards and a touchdown. Vanderbilt hadn't put together a drive of more than 45 yards all night.

That would change. In the second half, Jordan Rodgers hit touchdown passes of 52 and 26 yards, the latter with 52 seconds left, to lead Vanderbilt to the 27-26 win. Rodgers finished up 20-of-35 for 267 yards and the two scores, offsetting a running game that generated only 104 yards on 36 carries. (OIe Miss, for its part, ran for 55 yards on 40 carries. Hugh Freeze, you've got to be able to run the ball some to win in the SEC.)

As good a night as it is for Vanderbilt, it might have been the last real hope for Ole Miss. All that remains on the schedule is a trip to LSU and the Egg Bowl. The Rebels are going to be underdogs in both of them, but they have to win at least one of them to go to the postseason.

The possibilities are a little more intriguing for the Commodores. It's not entirely clear that Tennessee will come to Nashville next week as favorites, and the visit to Wake Forest doesn't look that intimidating. Win both of those games, and it will be the first time Vanderbilt has won eight games since 1982. Tack on a bowl win, and we're talking about the first nine-win season since 1915. And while neither of those would be unprecedented, they would be just as historic as what really happened for Vanderbilt on Saturday night.