HOUSTON — Ole Miss took care of business in its season opener against Texas Tech with a 47-27 win on a neutral field in Houston. The win snapped a 15-game winning streak in season openers for Texas Tech.
In a game featuring two fast-paced and high-powered offenses, it was apparent that scoring would be at a high. Ole Miss got the ball to start the game and on the second play from scrimmage, Jordan Ta’amu found D.K. Metcalf on a go route for a 58-yard touchdown. Metcalf would end with four receptions for 81 yards.
The Rebel Offense has the motto ‘don’t blink’ for that exact reason.
“The receivers did what we expected them to do,” offensive coordinator Phil Logo said. “They took advantage of some individual matchups and I thought they came at some key times during the game.”
On the following drive, the Red Raiders would go the length of the field to tie things up at seven apiece.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jaylon Jones showed his disapproval and took it 94 yards to the house to give the Rebels a 14-7 lead. It was Ole Miss’ first kickoff return for a touchdown since last season when, who else, Jaylon Jones returned a kick against South Alabama.
Ole Miss’ defense then forced back-to-back punts from Texas Tech, and its offense capitalized on the Rebels’ next drive. On fourth and one, Scottie Phillips broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown run to cap off the Rebels’ explosive first quarter in which they put up 24 points to Tech’s seven.
“(Scottie Phillips) has short, quick bursts, but he also has the breakaway speed that he can finish it when he breaks the line,” head coach Matt Luke said. “Really, really pleased to see him have some success.”
The second quarter wasn’t quite as exciting from a scoring standpoint. Ole Miss failed to reach the end zone, a rare occurrence for this group. However, Luke Logan knocked in two field goals in the second quarter to get the Rebels to 30 before the half.
“We’ve been working on these types of situations all fall camp,” Logan said. “Its gotten to the point where its the same thing whether it’s in a game or practice.”
The defense held its own throughout the game. Although Texas Tech starting quarterback McLane Carter was sidelined with an injury in the first quarter, the defense showed up and held a capable offense to just 27 points on the day, including two fourth down stops.
“The explosive plays (from Texas Tech) weren’t there today,” defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff said. “The guys did a great job of keeping a lid on the coverage and keeping the running backs in check.”
The third quarter began with punts from both teams, followed by a Tech field goal that made it a 30-20 affair.
Then Scottie Phillips happened.
Phillips broke off a 65-yard touchdown run for his second of the game to give the Rebels a 37-20 lead. Phillips finished the day with 205 yards on the ground and became only the eighth Ole Miss player to rush for over 200 in a single game.
“I think what we saw in the spring and what we saw in August camp I think we suspected that he has some explosive talent,” Longo said. “He does and showed that today and hopefully he continues that as the season goes on.”
Tech would score on its next drive to cut the Ole Miss lead back down to 10. But, the ‘Nasty Wide Outs’ struck again when A.J. Brown got in on the action with a 34-yard touchdown reception from Ta’amu in the fourth. Ta’amu finished 22-32 with 336 yards and two touchdowns. Brown ended with seven receptions for 93 yards.
How (the receivers) compliment each other is really, really special,” Luke said. “We just want to continue to build on that.”
Having the opportunity to play against a solid, power-five opponent in week one is a plus for Ole Miss. It showed that the Ole Miss offense is who we thought they were, and also showed that the defense may not be as bad as advertised considering it held a high-scoring offense from a season ago to 27 points.
“There will be a lot that we can improve on from week one to week two,” Luke said. “That’s part of the beauty of playing a really good opponent in week one. You can find out a lot about where you are.”