Ole Miss, ranked 110th in S&P+ returning production, will only return 11 starters from their 2016 squad. Additionally, as most of you already know, Hugh Freeze is no longer part of the program after revelations about burner phones and escort services were made public. Matt Luke, the new Interim Head Coach, inherits a young team with scholarship limitations and three new Coordinators (OC Phil Longo, DC Wesley McGriff, Special Teams Bradley Peveto). Dealing with that much turnover is always difficult, but even more so when your team is not eligible for the postseason.
The Rebels do return a prolific passing offense (13th in the nation last year) led by talented QB Shea Patterson, who stepped in last year after the injury to Chad Kelly and lit up the SEC. He will have a trio of big, talented receivers returning to work with in Van Jefferson, A.J. Brown and D.K Metcalf. This group is the clear core strength of the team and they should be a top 20 passing offense again. There are questions surrounding the rest of the roster especially with the defense which was horrid in 2016 allowing over 6 yards per play and an astonishing 34 points per game.
Expected Win Totals
CW Projected Total Wins: 6.5
CW Projected SEC Wins: 2.8
Posted Total Wins: O 5.5 -105
Home Field Advantage: 2.8
Opening Power Rating: 49.5
|Sep 2||South Alabama||Ole Miss||MISS -19.5|
|Sep 9||UT Martin||Ole Miss||MISS -21|
|Sep 16||Ole Miss||California||CAL +3|
|Sep 30||Ole Miss||Alabama||BAMA -32|
|Oct 7||Ole Miss||Auburn||AUB -17.5|
|Oct 14||Vanderbilt||Ole Miss||MISS +0.5|
|Oct 21||LSU||Ole Miss||MISS +12.5|
|Oct 28||Arkansas||Ole Miss||MISS +1|
|Nov 4||Ole Miss||Kentucky||UK -7|
|Nov 11||ULL||Ole Miss||MISS -15.5|
|Nov 18||Texas A&M||Ole Miss||MISS +2.5|
|Nov 23||Ole Miss||Mississippi St.||MSST -4|
|Legend: Coming off bye / Overlook watch / Back to Back road travel / Neutral site|
Betting on this team will be tricky all year long. Keep your eye on how the Ole Miss players respond to Interim Coach Matt Luke and any sanctions that come down on the program. It could get ugly in a hurry down in Oxford if Luke loses this bunch. With the already self imposed Bowl ban in place for 2017, the risk of losing the team will be highest in the second half of the season. If you think it will be ugly from the start, South Alabama might be worth a look week 1 especially if you can catch 24+. I may personally dabble with some Jaguars ML especially after the recent news that two defensive starters will be suspended week 1 for shoplifting. Another suspension was recently announced (Cooley at wide receiver) so the early signs out of Oxford are not positive.
Look for Auburn -14 or better as a Game of the Year line on October 7th. The Tigers will be catching a vulnerable Rebels team on the back end of a b2b road trip the week after a presumable whipping by Alabama. This one should get ugly fast at Jordan-Hare as Auburn could probably cover this game by simply alternating power right and power left for 60 minutes.
Injuries and lack of depth will take their toll on this roster especially by the last game of the year on November 23rd against Mississippi State. Both will certainly have motivation for the Egg Bowl, but I just don't think Ole Miss will have the bodies to compete late in the season. I also expect the Bulldogs to be fighting for Bowl eligibility. There are just too many things that need to go right for Ole Miss to prevent this line from getting closer to -10. There is a clear coaching mismatch in favor of the Bulldogs as well. Look for Mississippi State -7 or better for the GOY line.
DeMarquis Gates (LB) - Ole Miss is a young team dealing with a lot of turmoil. They will need seniors like Gates to step up as leaders to maintain accountability on a very fragile team. This unit will need to be much better than last year or this defense will continue to get shredded.
Gary Wunderlich (K) - Ole Miss should have a reliable kicking game again. Wunderlich was 22/23 on field goal attempts last year earning him a spot on the 2016 AP All American Team as the third team kicker.
Since 2010, Unders are 14-2 when the Rebels are a road favorite. This trend should apply September 16th as my projections show Ole Miss will be a slight fav (-3) at Cal.
It all goes right if…
Ole Miss doesn't suffer any major injuries that impact next season and they find a way to beat their in state rival, Mississippi State. I'm sure they haven't forgot about the 55-20 beating they took last year (largest Egg Bowl margin since 1916). Also, even when it all goes wrong on the field, at least everything will still be right at the Grove. Just ask Shelby...
It all goes wrong if…
Everything has pretty much already gone wrong in Oxford, but I guess it could get worse if Ole Miss continues to use school issued phones to conduct their negotiations with escort services.
Mississippi State -7 or better
Auburn -14 or better
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