|TideSports College Football Preview|
After improving over the last four years under Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss took a huge step back. Before the season even started, the school self-imposed a one-year bowl band and a reduction of 10 scholarships for the 2017 season in the wake of an NCAA investigation.
That happened in February, and a week after SEC Media Days in July, Freeze resigned after a new wave of scandal.
Former co-offensive coordinator Matt Luke will take the helm as interim coach. He has had ties to Ole Miss since his father played there, and he also played for the Rebels from 1995-98 as the team’s center.
“I’ve been an Ole Miss Rebel all my life. It’s all I can remember,” Luke said at the press conference introducing him as the head coach. “I can truly tell y’all today that this is my dream job. It’s a job I’ve been preparing my whole life for.”
The Rebels finished 5-7 last year and were one of two SEC teams not to make a bowl game, marking the first time since 2009 that the program had failed to make a bowl.
“My expectation is that we put a product on the field that plays with passion, that plays with energy, and we put a product on the field that all the Ole Miss fans are going to be proud of,” Luke said. “My vision is that we play the game the way it’s supposed to be played – with passion, energy and toughness.”
The team returns quarterback Shea Patterson, who started the last three games in 2016 after Chad Kelly was injured. He threw for six touchdowns in those games. Defensive end Marquis Haynes opted to return for his senior season. He is third in school history in sacks with 24.5.
Sept. 2; South Alabama
Sept. 9; UT Martin
Sept. 16; at California
Sept. 30; at Alabama
Oct. 7; at Auburn
Oct. 14; Vanderbilt
Oct. 21; LSU
Oct. 28; Arkansas
Nov. 4; at Kentucky
Nov. 11; Louisiana-Lafayette
Nov. 18; Texas A&M
Nov. 23; at Mississippi State
2016 record: 5-7 (2-6 Conf./ 6th in SEC West)
All-time SEC Championships: 6
All-time bowl appearances: 37 (24-13)
Sept. 5; vs Florida State*; L, 34-45
Sept. 10; Wofford; W, 38-13
Sept. 17; Alabama; L, 43-48
Sept. 24; Georgia; W, 45-14
Oct. 1; Memphis; W, 48-28
Oct. 15; at Arkansas; L, 30-34
Oct. 22; at LSU; L, 21-38
Oct. 29; Auburn; L, 29-40
Nov. 5; Georgia Southern; W, 37-27
Nov. 12; at Texas A&M; W, 29-28
Nov. 19; at Vanderbilt; L, 17-38
Nov. 26; Mississippi State; L, 20-55
Starters returning: 13
Starters lost: 13