Is this Ole Miss team better than previous ones? It remains to be seen this early in the season, but Alabama head coach Nick Saban seems to think so.
“This is at all no disrespect, but Ole Miss is playing really well,” Saban said on this week’s SEC Coaches’ Teleconference. “They’ve won three games and they scored a lot of points against Texas.
“It’s a very sound, effective offensive scheme that they run that creates a lot of difficulties for the defense. I think there’s a lot of positives about what Hugh Freeze has done.”
The Rebels will be tested unlike they have been all season when they kickoff against No. 1 Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday night.
The Tide will be tested, too. For the past two weeks, Saban has been preaching to his players that they don’t need to have an “I told you so” game to realize what’s at stake, being the opportunities that lie ahead and how far this team can go.
This week Saban referenced Tim Tebow’s famous speech after a heavily favored Florida lost at home to Ole Miss in 2008.
“I think this is a game that should be all about what we have at stake,” Saban said.
Matchup: No. 1 Alabama (4-0) vs. Ole Miss (3-1), 8:15 p.m. CT, ESPN
On the line: Every week after Alabama pounds an opponent into the ground, pundits shake their heads and wonder who will eventually challenge the Crimson Tide. Because they haven’t been yet. For Bama, a shot at the national championship would probably be crushed with a loss. For Ole Miss, a win would be quite the SEC welcoming party for Hugh Freeze.
When Alabama has the ball…The Tide will be balanced in their attack once again. Alabama is averaging 204 rushing yards per game and nine different guys have made runs out of the backfield. In the air, Bama is averaging 221 yards passing and quarterback A.J. McCarron has hit 12 different players out wide and is getting the hang of making explosive plays downfield. Expect more of the same.
When Ole Miss has the ball…The Rebels will try to wear Alabama out with its uptempo, no-huddle offense and test the Tide’s secondary with vertical passes. It’s unknown whether Bo Wallace or Barry Brunetti will line up at quarterback, but expect both to challenge Alabama’s defense, and both to look for receiver Donte Moncrief, who’s averaging 18.1 yards per catch and has a total of 343 yards receiving so far this season. Ole Miss will try to run tailback Jeff Scott, too, who is averaging 8.6 yards per carry.
Prediction: Just like they have in the first third of the season, the Tide will pummel Ole Miss. The Rebels will try to catch Alabama’s defense off guard with its hurry-up offense, but the Tide will prove too resilient.
Alabama 45, Ole Miss 13
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