Ole Miss received its sanctions late last year and they includeda bowl ban for the 2018 season, which puts an overall damper on things. At the least, the Rebels found their head coach in Matt LUke after a respectable 6-6 campaign that finished with a surprising Egg Bowl win. With Shea Patterson out at quarterback and Jordan Ta’amu in, they’ll hope to reach at least six wins once again, which should be do-able.
While defense is the main thing Ole Miss has to overhaul after allowing 34.6 points per Game, the offense should be plenty potent again after averaging close to 33 points per Game in 2017. Ta’amu is the guy to know in this offense after closing last season with some solid wins and huge Games that includedthree straight 350-plus yard performances. With receivers A.J. Brown (1,252 yards, 11 TDs), DaMarkus Lodge (698 yards, 7 TDs) and D.K. Metcalf (646 yards, 7 TDs) still helping out in the passing Game, this group could be even better than a year ago as long as everyone stays healthy. The running Game may be a question with Jordan Wilkins gone, but returnees D’Vaughn Pennamon and Eric Swinney at least have experience with incoming JUCO transfer SCottie Phillips. If all goes well, the high-flying passing Game should lead to better than 2017’s 4.3 yards per carry on the ground, especially with a veteran O-line.
The other side of the ball is the main question for the Rebs after being one of the worst against the run, allowing close to 250 rushing yards per Game. Those numbers clearly have to change if they want to finish with more than six wins.
Linebacker Josh Clarke is hyped to have a breakout year after redshirting last season. He’ll have a lot on his shoulders and could have some growing pains early in the campaign as a young player. To improve on last year’s abysmal numbers, guys like end Ryder Anderson and tackle Benito Jones have to pick it up a notch. There’s isn’t a ton of depth on this team due to sanctions, so the guys that are starting need to up their Game.
That said, the defense dominated the spring with the front being the unit that shined. While there were plenty of injuries on both sides, that should be a good sign going into the fall. The issue for the Rebels will be a tough early-season Schedule that includes Games against Texas Tech and Alabama. The defense will get a good test against two vastly different offenses with a ridiculous amount of points expected in the opener. The Rebels get South Carolina and Vandy out of the SEC East with both Games being winnable. To come out with a respectable record in Conference play, the Rebs will need to steal a road Game or two unless they plan on beating Auburn or Alabama. Games at Arkansas and Texas A&M will provide those opportunities with the Egg Bowl taking place in Oxford, giving Ole Miss the possibility of a seven-win season. The Rebs are expected to finish in the same spot in the SEC West above Arkansas and had +40000 odds in the spring to be National Champions, as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
2018 Ole Miss Rebels Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Texas Tech
Sept. 8 vs. Southern Illinois
Sept. 15 vs. Alabama
Sept. 22 vs. Kent State
Sept. 29 at LSU
Oct. 6 vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Oct. 13 at Arkansas
Oct. 20 vs. Auburn
Nov. 3 vs. South Carolina
Nov. 10 at Texas A&M
Nov. 17 at Vanderbilt
Nov. 22 vs. Mississippi State