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March 5, 2013

Vanderbilt, Ole Miss opener set for Thursday

For the second consecutive year, Vanderbilt will be in the national spotlight on the opening day of college football when the Commodores host Southeastern Conference rival Ole Miss on Thursday, August 29.

The Commodores and Rebels, two teams on the rise in the SEC, will kickoff at 8:15 p.m. CT, in Vanderbilt Stadium, according to a statement released today jointly by ESPN, the SEC and Ole Miss.

"I am really excited for our team, our university and our city that we are opening the season again on Thursday night," Head Coach James Franklin said. "At Vanderbilt, there are advantages both academically and athletically with a Thursday opener.

"We're also very excited about having the opportunity to open the season for all of college football and also playing in the first game between Southeastern Conference teams," the coach added.

The Vanderbilt-Ole Miss game also will air on ESPN, following an Atlantic Coast Conference-SEC matchup pitting North Carolina at South Carolina.

The Ole Miss encounter will be Vanderbilt's second straight season opener played on a Thursday night. In 2012, the Commodores dropped a narrow 17-13 decision to nationally ranked South Carolina in Nashville.

"We are excited to once again help usher in the start of the college football season," said David Williams, Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director. "Our football team enjoys this spotlight and our fans have responded enthusiastically to the Thursday night atmosphere. It is an excellent opportunity to showcase our university to a national audience."

Vanderbilt and Ole Miss have played 87 games previously, with the Rebels holding a 47-38-2 series advantage. The teams have met annually since 1970.

The Commodores have enjoyed a recent advantage against the Rebels, winning the last three encounters. The 2012 game was a series classic, with Vanderbilt edging Ole Miss 27-26 in Oxford, coming back from a 23-6 second-half deficit to win on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Rodgers to Chris Boyd with less than a minute to play.

Vanderbilt is coming off a 9-4 campaign, capped by a 38-24 victory over North Carolina State in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. The Commodores matched a single-season program high for victories dating back to 1915 and closed with a seven-game win streak, which is the SEC's longest active streak.

The Rebels were 7-6 in 2012. They finished the year with a win over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

The Commodores open Spring Practice on Friday, March 15. The Black & Gold Game that caps Vanderbilt's spring drills is scheduled on Saturday, April 13, with kickoff in Vanderbilt Stadium at 1 p.m., CT.

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