One of the surprise stories of 2017, the Ole Miss Rebels had to deal with the major fallout from the Hugh Freeze scandal. But Matt Luke, who once coached with Tennessee football and is a David Cutcliffe disciple, stepped in and saved the program.
He was so good that an injury to Shea Patterson, their all-star quarterback, didn’t hold this team back. All they did was insert Jordan Ta’amu, who performed so well that Patterson transferred to the Michigan Wolverines. With more stability and a full offseason, Ole Miss has a lot to be excited about this year.
However, there was still a bit of offseason drama since Luke had to take the head coaching position full time. Also, they were just 6-6 last year, and they would have gone 5-7 were it not for an injury to Nick Fitzgerald in the Egg Bowl against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. They would still be here at No. 9 due to continuity even had they lost that game, but there are questions.
The real story is just that morale is much higher. And that morale faces a real test at the very start of the season. On Saturday at noon, Ole Miss with its new coach has to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders and face a team with a coach on the hot seat in Kliff Kingsbury. That game is in Houston.
A win would really set this program off on the right track and could even move them up these SEC Power Rankings. But it’s Texas Tech, not a powerhouse. So a loss could drop them as well. It’s a great first test.