There seems to be a little different feeling about this year’s Alabama-Ole Miss football game. The Rebels have a fine history, but it is mostly ancient history. Nevertheless, Bama has had many difficult games against Mississippi, even though the Crimson Tide has a commanding lead in the series.
When Alabama hosts Ole Miss in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday, it will be the 61st meeting of the two teams. The Crimson Tide has a 50-8-2 on-the-field advantage with nine consecutive wins. (NCAA rulings, three vacancies and a forfeit, have made the official series record 46-9-2.)
Five of the Ole Miss records came between 1894 and 1910. After 1910, Bama ran off 12 consecutive wins before the Rebels earned a 0-0 tie in 1933, the first year of Southeastern Conference competition. The Tide then tacked on five more wins in a row.
Both teams are 3-0 this year, including 1-0 SEC records. The Rebels had an open date last week after having a big win, 44-23, over Texas in Austin in their last game. Going back to last season, Ole Miss has a five-game winning streak, Alabama a seven-game winning streak.
Bama is ranked first in the nation and Mississippi is 21st.
This is the first time the teams have both been ranked since 2009, when Alabama went undefeated and won the national championship, and the first time since 1982 the teams have played when both were unbeaten.
This will be the Rebels’ 10th game against a team ranked first in the nation. Mississippi is 0-9 in previous games, including twice against top-ranked Alabama -- 59-35 in 1980 and 33-14 last year.
Kickoff Saturday is at 5:30 p.m. CDT with ESPN televising.
As the SEC has struggled with scheduling 14 teams in an eight-game league schedule, a quirk has Ole Miss coming to Tuscaloosa for a second consecutive year. Last year the Tide took a 33-14 win.
In last year’s game, the Rebels became the first team to have the lead on Alabama in the fifth game of the season. Twice Bama drove deep into Rebels territory, only to settle for Jeremy Shelley field goals and a 6-0 lead.
Ole Miss took the lead 7-6 when tailback Jeff Scott went in from a yard out to complete a 13-play, 75-yard drive.
It was a lead that lasted only 15 seconds.
The Rebels kicked off to Christion Jones, who returned it 99 yards for a touchdown. Bama got two second quarter touchdowns on passes of 16 and 12 yards from A.J. McCarron to Amari Cooper and went out to a 27-7 halftime lead, but Bama could manage only two more Shelley field goals in the second half in closing out the win.
This is the second of three consecutive home games for Alabama. The Tide opened the season with a 35-10 win over Virginia Tech in Atlanta, defeated Texas A&M 49-42 in College Station, and finally had a home game last week, a 31-6 win over Colorado State.
Next week Alabama hosts Georgia State for homecoming.
There have been a handful of very memorable games in the Alabama-Ole Miss series.
At the end of the 1963 season, there was the oddity of the Tide and Rebels meeting in the Sugar Bowl with snow on the field at Tulane Stadium. The Tide was without star quarterback Joe Namath, who had been suspended, but Tim Davis – who had kicked only four field goals in regular season play – kicked four field goals to win the Sugar Bowl game, 12-7.
One of the most famous games in college football history, and the first prime time telecast of a college football game, came in 1969 in Birmingham when Scott Hunter quarterbacked the Tide to a 33-32 win over the Rebels, despite an extraordinary performance by Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning. The two quarterbacks combined for what was then an NCAA record 55 pass completions.
In 1988, Alabama had Ole Miss for its homecoming opponent, and the Rebels spoiled it with the Rebels’ first ever win in a Tide home game. The 22-12 win was remarkable for Alabama failing to complete a pass.
Bama completed quite a few passes in the rematch in Jackson the next year. Bama stumbled out of the gate and the Rebels had a 21-0 lead early in the first quarter. But then Gary Hollingsworth put on a show, leading the Tide to 62 unanswered points and a 62-27 win.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban is 10-1 all-time against the Rebels, including 6-0 with the Crimson Tide.
Historically, Alabama has recruited a number of players from the Magnolia State, but this year’s team has only three Mississippians – guard Anthony Steen (Clarksdale), wide receiver Kevin Norwood (D’Iberville), and tight end Malcolm Faciane (Picayune). Cornerback Deion Belue is from Tuscumbia, but played junior college football at Northeast Mississippi Community College.
Ole Miss has 13 players from the state of Alabama on its roster.
One area in which Alabama and Ole Miss are tied for number one in the nation is having players with degrees. Both teams have 13 men who have already been graduated.