Good Saban Hunting: Ole Miss vs Alabama

By Terry Waldrop
Ole Miss Rebels Football, Alabama Crimson Tide Football
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

There are 16 starters returning this year for a revamped and ready for Prime Time University of Mississippi football squad, as they load their guns and venture into Tuscaloosa in search of a pack of red elephants that have been reigning supreme as of late.

The Rebels, under Hugh Freeze, have been the surprise thus far of the SEC, and served notice after going into the Texas Hill Country and hosting a BBQ where Bevo himself was the guest of honor. Texas Football isn’t what it used to be, but going into Austin and vanquishing the herd is still a very impressive notch on the Rebels’ belt. Enter Alabama and their seemingly endless run as the No. 1 team in the land.  The Tide was sluggish somewhat last week in a blowout win.  This was completely to be expected, as it was the week after Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M tapped every emotional and physical nerve Alabama possessed. In reality, after today, the only time during the regular season Alabama will be tested will be when they host LSU the first week of November. Ole Miss will provide some tests, and after the Aggie offense lit up the Tide, it should be interesting to see what adjustments Nick Saban and company will be able to make.

The Oregon styled offense of the Rebels plays fast and loose. This works if you can move the ball and score some points, and a mobile quarterback like Mississippi possesses has given the Tide problems. Much like the Ducks have found when they play SEC heavyweights (note:  Tennessee is not an SEC heavyweight) that offense tends to have problems getting untracked early. The Rebels must rely on a proven offensive and defensive line to, at worst, play the Tide to a stalemate in order for the Rebels’ strengths to have a chance to flourish. Conventional wisdom says Saban and company jump on the Rebels early and continue to wear them down through the course of the game.

Freeze has done a remarkable retooling job with Ole Miss. His recruiting class was one of the best in the nation last year, and that isn’t so easily accomplished in Oxford, or any part of Mississippi for that matter. The Rebels are good. but they are not ready to take down the Elephant herd on their own turf.  It looks like Ole Miss is going to be battling an improving Auburn team for fourth place in the SEC West. While that doesn’t sound very good, keep in mind that the Rebels could probably finish near the top of just about any other conference in the country. Good news for Ole Miss is that they will certainly be bowl bound, and no matter who they draw in a bowl game, they will have faced several far superior teams along the way. The Rebels will take a bowl win, but they will be rolled out today by the Tide.

Alabama 38, Ole Miss 14

Coach Terry Waldrop was a longtime collegiate basketball coach and athletic director.  He has always had a passion for writing and shares his thoughts on college football and basketball in addition to a number of other sports related topics.  Never shy of an opinion follow him on Twitter @terrywaldrop and on Facebook  and on Google

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