By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Jason Jones is a fifth-year senior. He’s played a lot of November football.
But it’s been a while since the Ole Miss defensive end has played November games with any real relevance.
If Jones and the Rebels defeat Vanderbilt this week they will secure a winning season and a bowl game for the first time since 2009.
“It feels good to be at this point in the season actually playing for something. The last two seasons, you want to get those out of your mind, out of the whole program,” he said. “This is something that’s really meaningful to us all, not just me.”
Vanderbilt has won four of the last five in the series, and the game is meaningful for the Commodores – who like the Rebels are 5-4 overall – for all the same reasons.
Both teams will have two more chances to lock up a bowl should they fall short Saturday night in a 6 p.m. ESPNU kickoff.
Ole Miss will have remaining games against ranked SEC rivals LSU and Mississippi State, the first on the road, the latter at home.
Vanderbilt will have a home game with Tennessee and a road game with Wake Forest left to play.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has called on his fan base for a strong and vocal turnout at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“I hope our fans understand the importance of this game and will be here ready to cheer very loudly,” he said.
While coaches and players often talk of a “game-at-a-time” approach to the season, Jones says players have talked among themselves of a bowl game since Freeze and his staff arrived.
For Ole Miss, it’s not about just beating Vanderbilt to get to a bowl game.
“It would relieve a little pressure, but you never want to be like you’re going to settle for six wins,” Jones said. “Out of respect for yourself, your teammates, your coaches and the game plan they put together, you don’t want to just win one game and be satisfied. You want to try to get all three of them.”