November 6, 2012 10:23:35 AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt University football coach James Franklin is eager to take his Commodores on the road again. Apparently, his host for the weekend is just as enthusiastic.
University of Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze called Franklin on Monday morning to extend an early welcome to the Commodores, who have won three straight and four of their last five.
"That was a little bit of a surprise," Franklin said. "I've never had that happen to me before. He was really nice. He said you guys are doing a great job and if you guys need anything on your way down or want to do walk-throughs. I talked to Hugh earlier in the year, so I thought that was really nice."
The Commodores (5-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) are coming off their first SEC shutout since 1968 - a 40-0 rout at Kentucky on Saturday. A win Saturday makes them bowl eligible for a second straight year for the first time in school history. It also would mark just the 10th time they have won four SEC games in a season.
"It will be nice when we don't have to say that any more that this hasn't happened since 1960 or this hasn't happened since 1950," Franklin said. "Hopefully we won't be saying that very often anymore."
As they do every week, the Commodores have reset their record at 0-0 and are refocusing on the Rebels (5-4, 2-3). There will be no chatter about bowls.
"I'm not really sure what you're talking about," Franklin said. "They're all big. Every week is like the Super Bowl for us whether it is conference, non-conference, on the road, home, that's it. I'm not really sure of any other significance that really comes up besides being 1-0 this week."
Ole Miss is a familiar foe. This will be the 87th meeting between the schools. The only team Vanderbilt has played more is in-state rival Tennessee (106).
The Commodores have won four of five against the Rebels and last lost in Oxford in 2006. The road has been a more welcome place for Vanderbilt since a 48-3 loss to then-No. 5 Georgia on Sept. 22. A victory Saturday would give Vanderbilt its first three-game road winning streak since 1999.
"I think we're starting to realize where we are as a team and we're starting to believe a little bit more," wide receiver Chris Boyd sad. "We're having more success because of an attitude and swagger we're starting to develop. I think that has a lot to do with it."
The Rebels also are a more confident bunch under Freeze and need just one win to secure bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009. Ole Miss led Georgia 10-0 early in the second quarter Saturday before falling 37-10. The Rebels are averaging 29.9 points per game.
Franklin said the Rebels' no-huddle offense can create problems. Led by Tennessee native and sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace, Ole Miss gets to the line quickly. That can be hard for scout teams to simulate in practice. It also makes it hard for opposing defenses to substitute players at a timely pace.
"I think it is a challenge on everybody," Franklin said. "You're not going to be able to make the perfect call on defense. So it is going to be about us executing our defenses better than them. I think this takes some defensive coordinators that aren't prepared and ready for it out of their game."