Ole Miss-Vandy features inept rushing offenses vs. horrible rushing defenses

Vanderbilt RB Ralph Webb for Ole Miss-Vandy
Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

Take the adage of the irresistible force against the immovable object, flip that around to its exact opposite and you’ll have a good example of what to expect in the ground game Saturday when Ole Miss plays host to Vanderbilt.

That’s because the Commodores and Rebels have the two worst rushing offenses in the Power Five conferences and two of the four worst in the nation. Wait, there’s more: They also have two of the worst rushing defenses in the nation.

In six games this season, Vanderbilt has rushed 160 times for 460 yards — 76.7 yards per contest — which is 127th nationally. The only Power Five team that is worse is Ole Miss, which has gained 380 yards in its five games — 76.0 yards per game — which ranks 128th. Western Kentucky (74.6 yards per game) and Eastern Michigan (74.2 ypg) are the only teams with worse rushing offenses.

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To put those numbers in perspective, 11 SEC players already have more than 380 rushing yards; Alabama and Georgia have two each (Jalen Hurts and Damien Harris for the Crimson Tide, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel for the Bulldogs). With a big game this weekend for Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough, the Tide could have three players with more rushing yardage than the entire Rebels offense.

This isn’t really news for Ole Miss, which expected to ride the arm of sophomore Shea Patterson and hasn’t fielded a 1,000-yard rusher since Dexter McCluster ran for 1,169 yards in 2009. But it’s a major shock for Vanderbilt, where Commodores fans thought Ralph Webb would rank among the conference elite. Instead, Webb has gained just 245 yards on 87 carries, 2.8 yards per rush, ranking 25th place in the conference. The senior, who contemplated leaving early for the NFL draft and entered the season on the Doak Walker Award watch list, has slipped well down the national radar.

As awful as Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have been running the ball, they’ve been nearly as inept at stopping opponents’ rushes.

Vanderbilt is allowing 241.0 rushing yards per game. Admittedly, much of that figure comes from a single disastrous performance, the 59-0 loss to Alabama, but it’s still 121st in the nation. Ole Miss is even worse: The Rebels are allowing their foes to run for 248.6 yards per game, which ranks 123rd.

The only Power Five teams with more porous run defenses are Tennessee (which allows 252.6 yards per game and, unlike Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, has yet to face Alabama) and UCLA (284.2). North Carolina (241.7) is in between Vandy and Ole Miss.

So, to sum it up for Ole Miss-Vandy:

* When Vanderbilt has the ball: the No. 127 rushing offense against the No. 123 rushing defense.

* When Ole Miss has the ball: the No. 128 rushing offense against the No. 121 rushing defense.

Fun times, for sure.

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