Fresh off back-to-back wins, the Ole Miss Rebels are preparing for a season-defining matchup with Texas A&M this weekend.
The Aggies, 3-3 in SEC play, present Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke with an opportunity to salvage a largely meaningless season while possibly saving his own job. As the Rebels continue to search for a head coach candidate behind the scenes, support continues to grow among players and fans alike in favor of keeping Luke on next season. Saturday’s game could decide Luke’s fate.
A&M won’t make it easy. All eyes will fall on Christian Kirk, the Aggies’ star receiver and a prime candidate for the NFL draft next season. With more than 2,500 career yards, Ole Miss defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff will certainly have his hands full.
On the other side of the ball, Jordan Ta’amu looks to continue his impressive tear. His 7-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio has kept the Rebels on track downfield and given the defense some much-needed rest. Through three games, the talented signal-caller has looked poised in the pocket and on the run. While Texas A&M does rank among the better defensive teams in the NCAA, Ta’amu and his talented corps of “Nasty Wide Outs,” including the mercurial A.J. Brown, could find the necessary gaps.
The Aggies are also starting a relatively inexperienced quarterback in Nick Starkel. Playing in just four games so far this year, Starkel threw for 416 yards against New Mexico last week on a 70 percent completion rate. Yes, New Mexico’s defense could be described as porous at best, but that’s a decent line for any college quarterback. The burden will rest on Marquis Haynes and the rest of Ole Miss’ “Landshark” defense to quiet the opposition.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 6 p.m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.