Ole Miss finally ended a three-game losing streak in Oxford, tuning up lowly Vanderbilt, 57-35, and they looked good doing it.
Ole Miss started on shaky ground, fizzling out a pair of drives and allowing Vanderbilt’s running game to push them around. But a large touchdown throw-catch-and-run from Shea Patterson to AJ Brown put Ole Miss on the board first. They were immediately answered by a Vandy touchdown and they were off to the races from.
And off to the races they indeed were. Their halftime total of 35 points owed to Brown, DaMarkus Lodge, and a power run from five yards out by Patterson. The offense was clicking, and the defense was playing with their hair on fire. Even so, the Rebs allowed three touchdowns in the first half, but it didn’t feel as close as that.
Ole Miss began the second half right where they left off in the first half, with a strong defensive stand that resulted in Vanderbilt surrendering a safety. That in fact was the Rebs’ first forced safety since 2013, and it was Marquis Haynes in on the ground floor to force the ball loose, after which Vandy fell on it to produce the safety dance.
Vandy threatened on the ensuing drive, but they fizzed around the 10 yard line then missed a field goal attempt wide right.
Here are three quick takeaways from Ole Miss’ big day in Oxford.
The offense remains fast and powerful.
Patterson got to air out on Saturday, and his receivers gave him plenty of help besides. D.K. Metcalf remains a bad man, DaMarkus Lodge can still get after it, and even Jordan Wilkins hauled in a pair of catches. A.J. Brown of course sits on a totally different level, and he had already racked up over 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns before the third quarter even ended. His longest was his first, a 58-yard scamper down the visitor sideline to house the day’s first of many scores.
The defense actually woke up.
We know, we know: it was Vanderbilt. Georgia utterly slaughtered them a month ago. Their offense is terrible, and the defense ain’t much better. But notching the team’s first safety since 2013 against Georgia Tech notable.
So, there is reason to feel a modicum of optimism following this defensive effort, and certainly the front four deserve a hefty load of credit for the performance they put in. But again, let’s temper our joy — pump the brakes, perhaps? — and keep in mind that this was Vanderbilt.