In a game that was pivotal for both teams’ bowling bids, it was the Vanderbilt Commodores that took control, as they downed the Ole Miss Rebels 38-17.
Kyle Shurmur had an impressive night as he went 17-for-30 for 273 yards in the air and two touchdowns, while Ralph Webb asserted himself with 20 carries for 123 yards and three scores.
Meanwhile, Shea Patterson had his moments with 254 total yards and two passing TDs, but the Rebs didn’t have much of a ground game against the stingy Vandy defense.
Ole Miss kicked off the fireworks early, as they drove down the field on its opening drive for a 23-yard field goal by Gary Wunderlich. Patterson accounted for 41 yards on the drive while Akeem Judd added a huge 21-yard carry on the ground. A muffed punt by Darrius Sims put the Rebels in prime position at the 21-yard line, and Patterson capitalized on the very next play with a touchdown toss to Judd.
The Commodores answered at the end of the first quarter with a 4-yard Webb touchdown plunge following a 67-yard completion from Shurmur to Trent Sherfield.
A completion from Shurmur to Sims for 39 yards set up Vandy on the 10-yard line in the middle of the second quarter, and the team took the lead with another TD pass to Sherfield. The first half wasn’t kind to Ole Miss as it didn’t convert a single third down in the first 30 minutes, while Vanderbilt managed to convert two.
The Commodores set the tone for the second half on their opening drive of the third quarter with a nine-play, 90-yard drive capped off by a dash for 11 yards by Webb to push the lead to 21-10. Following a fumble by Patterson, Vanderbilt added a 24-yard field goal from Tommy Openshaw to extend its lead even more. The ‘Dores poured it on with an 11-play drive that ended with a Webb touchdown scamper from a yard out to set the score at 31-10.
The Rebels stopped the bleeding in a big way in the fourth quarter as Patterson heaved a prayer to Evan Engram in the endzone, and he eventually came down with it after bobbling with a defender draped all over him. However, another Shurmur TD pass, this time a three-yarder to Bailey McElwain, pushed the lead back to 21 points with 8:36 to go, which was the final nail in the coffin for Ole Miss’s comeback bid.
Now, some takeaways from the game:
1. Vandy’s now a near-lock for a bowl bid. Per an list on SEC Network’s broadcast, Vanderbilt is in the top five in the country in APR, which will help it get to a bowl if it manages to end the season at 5-7. With 80 bowl slots to fill, the odds are good that the Commodores play a 13th game, which is huge for the program.
2. Shurmur made the plays he had to. With 9.1 yards per pass and a pair of touchdowns, Shurmur provided the perfect complement to Webb’s rushing prowess. If Vandy can maintain that kind of balance against Tennessee next week, that match-up will be really interesting.
3. Patterson is raw, but the sky is the limit. Patterson made some impressive throws as well as scintillating runs with his legs, but he’s just not ready to carry a team like Ole Miss needs him to. We’ll see what kind of strides he makes against Mississippi State, but the long term future for Patterson at Ole Miss is really exciting.