Quarterback Matt Corral led Ole Miss to a 31-17 win over Vanderbilt on a picture perfect fall Saturday in Oxford to complete an undefeated home record for the Rebels.
Ole Miss (9-2, 5-2 SEC) jumped out to an early 10-0 lead on the ‘Dores (2-9, 0-7 SEC) in the first five minutes of the game, and for those of us in attendance, it seemed like a blowout was in the making. Wide receivers Dontario Drummond and Braylon Sanders were back in uniform and looked healthy for the first time in weeks, and it was dadgum senior night - this had all the trappings of a 40+ point win.
The Rebels added a touchdown from Jerrion Ealy and Drummond to stretch its lead to 18 points in the second quarter, but Vanderbilt pieced together a few field goal drives including a 41 yarder as time expired on the half to tighten the game to 24-9.
In the third quarter, fans got to enjoy cold beers and boring football as neither team scored, and undoubtedly, there was some frustration as red zone issues on the Rebel offense continue to be a theme late in the season. Henry Parrish Jr. burst through the Vandy defense early in the fourth quarter, however, to put the Rebels up 31-9, and from that point, it was just a wasting away of the clock.
Corral finished the night with 27 of 36 passing for 326 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Jahcour Pearson was the leading receiver with four catches and 101 yards.
There is no doubt a lot of concern for a good portion of Rebel fans who have seen in-state rival Mississippi St. seemingly do a 180 degree turn since starting the season 3-3. Meanwhile, Ole Miss seems to be surviving each week, though it is winning games with a depleted roster.
Now there is a four day rest before a massive Egg Bowl with two top 25 teams playing for bragging rights for the next year but also better postseason bowl destinations. Additionally, Ole Miss has a chance to finish the regular season with 10 wins, which would be historically one of its best seasons ever. NBD everything is fine and crippling anxiety will not take over my life until Thursday night.
Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt was not what I think anyone in Oxford wanted to see in terms of margin of victory. But let’s say this about Corral, Lane Kiffin and this entire team - they have in short order raised the expectations and the profile of this program to a point where fans want more than just a two touchdown win and that’s OK. Corral’s impact on this program won’t be fully known until he leaves, but in my opinion, it will be lasting and one day we’ll look back and really have a clear picture of everything he accomplished for Ole Miss.