Ole Miss put its nightmare offseason behind it by getting back to winning games, courtesy of a 47-27 opening-game victory over South Alabama in Oxford.
Shea Patterson returned to the same form that saw him average 293.3 YPG passing in the Rebels’ final three games of the 2016 season by connecting on 28 of 35 passes for 429 yards and four touchdowns.
A.J. Brown was the star of the show, however, notching the first 100-yard receiving game of his career in impressive fashion. The sophomore posted a Rebels’ single-game record 233 yards and essentially swung the game in Ole Miss’ favor, scoring on catches of 71 and 77 yards on consecutive touches in the third quarter to put them up by 26-10 margin.
DaMarkus Lodge opened the Ole Miss scoring in the first quarter on a 5-yard scoring grab and added a 14-yard touchdown in the second half. D’Vaughn Pennamon added a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Ole Miss looked like an entirely different team after the break, outscoring South Alabama 33-17 in the second half on its way towards racking up 529 total yards.
The Jaguars flashed signs of life late in third quarter after a Gavin Patterson 20-yard field goal. But the celebration was short-lived when Jaylon Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards to put Ole Miss up 33-13.
Cole Garvin found the end zone twice for South Alabama, scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns after the game was out of reach.
Matt Luke won his coaching debut after taking over for maligned former head coach Hugh Freeze, who abruptly left the program this summer in the face of NCAA sanctions. The first-year head coach is a Rebels alum, having served as the team’s co-offensive coordinator the last five seasons.