History, It Favors Us Not

Last night, after the last of the Chris RLOLf-induced Schadenfreude faded from my mind, I ruminated that we Rebels should perhaps temper our rivalrous excitement for a moment, remembering that we do open SEC play this weekend on the road against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

I tweeted as much which, after a few pints, read something like "dont forget taht we're gonna loose to Vandrebilt on Saturda." It was halfway tongue-in-cheek, but that didn't keep a few good Rebels from admonishing me for my pessimistic outlook on the upcoming game. Anchor of Gold, SBNation's Vanderbilt affiliate (if you haven't figured that out by now), then tweeted a bit of a history lesson our way, highlighting their own reservations regarding the Commodores' chances against Ole Miss:

The last head coach to open his Vanderbilt career 3-0? E.H. Alley (5-0) in 1943!

So, AoG, you feel that history ain't on your side with this one? Perhaps that's a given, considering how a majority of the Vanderbilt football program's history is stacked against them, but we Rebels have a few trends of our own worth breaking.

All time, the Rebels are 47-36-2 against the Commodores. That puts Vanderbilt in the same goup as Mississippi State, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Florida as the only SEC schools against which the Rebels have a winning record. Since the firing of David Cutcliffe, who was 5-1 against Vanderbilt, the Rebs are 2-4 against our Nashvillian foes, with just one of those wins taking place in the Music City (2009). Even in more successful years, such as 2008, the Rebels have struggled to put Vanderbilt away.

But it might not necessarily be that Vanderbilt is the problem. Of course we've had difficulties with them, but the Rebels have, for the past few decades, struggled against any team they open SEC play against. Over the past 20 seasons, the Rebels have only won three SEC openers. T-H-R-E-E. Aside from Vanderbilt, those seventeen losses have come to mostly to Auburn (NINE losses to open the season against Auburn, the team against which Ole Miss opened against for about a decade), Alabama, Kentucky, and South Carolina. Given this, one could reasonably conclude that it isn't Vandy that's the problem; it's the timing.

And then there's the difficulty of winning an SEC opener on the Road. The last time the Rebs did that was in 2003 against Vanderbilt in Nashville. The last time before that? 1989, when Ole Miss defeated Florida in Gainesville by a score of 24 to 19. The last time before that? 1971. Yes, nineteen seventy one, in Lexington against the Kentucky Wildcats. (Disclosure: there were some road wins against South Carolina and Arkansas peppered in that timespan, but they weren't yet in the SEC).

So pardon my cynicism, Rebel fans, when I suggest that a win against Vanderbilt to open SEC play on the road is going to be pretty damned tough. I can confirm that I do, however, fully hope to buck the trend on Saturday.

 

* That 2008 game will go down in my memory as one of the most excruciating games I've ever endured as an Ole Miss fan. Fuckin' Vandy, man.

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