The Ole Miss Rebels will host the South Alabama Jaguars to start out the 2017 campaign. Kickoff is set for 7:30 EST at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2nd. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

No surprise at who is favored in this one. The books have Ole Miss listed as a 24-point favorite with the total at 58.5 points. It’s worth noting that the line has dropped quite a bit since it opened with the Rebels at -27. Click here for more Week 1 betting odds and game previews.

Mississippi vs South Alabama Vegas Betting Line & Game Preview

It’s been quite an offseason for the Rebels. Head coach Hugh Freeze resigned after a school investigation found phone records to escort services. That came on the heels of a self-imposed bowl ban, which is a big deal for a top level SEC program. Last year they went just 5-7, though they had the talent to rival the best teams in the country.

Now it’s up to interim head coach Matt Luke to keep the ship from sinking. He has only 11 starters back, but his biggest challenge will be keeping the players motivated with no titles or championships to play for.

Joey Jones has done a nice job of helping South Alabama transition to the FBS. In the first 5 years at the big boy level, he’s taken the Jaguars on two bowl trips. That includes last year, when they won their final game of the regular season to become bowl eligible.

However, it’s two early season wins that got a lot of peoples attention. The first game in a shocking 21-20 win at Mississippi State in the opener as a 28-point dog. The other a 42-24 blowout win over a ranked San Diego State team that finished 11-3. Jones will try to keep the magic going with only 11 starters back.

College Football Free Betting Selection: Ole Miss -24

A lot of people are calling this one of the potential big upsets of Week 1. While I likely won’t be playing the Rebels, I would definitely lean that way.

At some point this season the lack of a bowl game will have a negative impact on how this team plays. I also think not having Freeze around will provide a challenge. With that said, I expect Ole Miss to play with a ton of passion and fire in this game. All they have heard all offseason is how this year is a complete waste.

Click on the link for more free NCAA football predictions.

They got something to prove to everyone and will not take South Alabama lightly after they upset one of their division rivals last year. I also think there’s going to be an emphasis on not letting their foot off the gas, after blowing a 28-6 lead in last year’s opener to FSU.

Offensively this team is going to be able to score a ton of points. The hype around sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson is the real deal. He’s got that special ability to turn a broken play into a huge gain. Last year’s experience should pay off big time. Ole Miss did lose a lot at the skill positions, but they recruit extremely well and have guys ready to step in and contribute.

Defense is the big concern, after the unit took a major step backwards last year, allowing 34.0 ppg and 461 ypg. The most troubling thing being the 246 yards/game they allowed on the ground. They brought in a new DC, which can only help. They won’t be elite like previous seasons, but will be much improved.

As for South Alabama, there’s a lot of holes they have to fill from last year with only 11 starters back. I just don’t see how they stop the Rebels offense. Especially with the injuries in the secondary. Projected starting corners bobby Flott and Jalen Thompson aren’t expected to play. Thompson was lost for the year and Flott is doubtful.

Note that even with the upset at Mississippi State last year, the Jaguars are just 3-13 ATS in their last 16 road games. They are also 3-7 ATS in their last 10 non-conference. Rebels are 26-11-1 in their last 38 non-conference games and 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 games in September.