For the second straight year, Vanderbilt will open the football season on a Thursday night in front of a national audience against a Southeastern Conference foe.
The Commodores will host Ole Miss at 8:15 p.m. on Aug. 29 on ESPN, the network and SEC announced on Tuesday.
Vanderbilt lost last year’s opener, also at home and also on ESPN, to then-No. 9 South Carolina 17-13. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 31, but was moved in order for an SEC matchup to be featured on the opening night of college football.
“I am really excited for our team, our university and our city that we are opening the season again on Thursday night,” 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.”
Vanderbilt has won three in a row against Ole Miss, including a 27-26 decision last year in Oxford, Miss. The Commodores rallied from a 17-point, second-half deficit when Jordan Rodgers connected with Chris Boyd for a 26-yard touchdown with 52 seconds left to clinch bowl eligibility for Vanderbilt.
The Commodores ended the season with seven straight wins — the SEC’s longest active win streak. A 38-24 win over North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl capped off a 9-4 season as Vanderbilt matched a school-record and collected its most wins since 1915. The Commodores were ranked 23rd in the final Associated Press poll and 20th in the USA Today Coaches poll.
Under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss finished the season 7-6 and defeated Pittsburgh 38-17 in the BBVA Compass Bowl. The 2013 season opener will be a homecoming of sorts for Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace, a former standout at Giles County High.
“We are excited to once again help usher in the start of the college football season,” Vanderbilt athletics director David Williams said. “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 opens spring practice on March 15 before concluding the workouts with the Black & Gold Spring Game on April 13 in Vanderbilt Stadium.