The last two times the Alabama Crimson Tide football program stepped on the field to face the Ole Miss Rebels, things didn’t turn out the way Nick Saban and company wanted, but don’t think that has any bearing on 2016. The Crimson Tide return six starters on offense and five on defense, and they’ll have revenge on their minds by the time Sept. 17 rolls around.
As far as national championship contenders go, history has shown us it’s easier to overcome an early-season loss than one later on. Why that’s the case is anybody’s guess, but once the season kicks off, we’ll get an idea of how good this team can be. Their opening game is against a USC Trojans team that figures to be better than they have been in the past few seasons. If the Tide can get through that one, they’ll get an easier non-conference game before having to travel to meet the Rebels in a game that they’ve definitely had circled on their calendars the entire offseason.
The Tide are now handing the keys of the offense to junior quarterback Cooper Bateman. Being one of the highest-rated quarterbacks coming out of high school a few years ago got people excited. The Tide seem to have created a recruiting machine, but they haven’t been able to figure out the quarterback position consistently. Whether or not Bateman can live up to the hype has yet to be determined. His on-field performance to this point, whether we’re discussing his spring game performance or the limited action he’s seen during game time, has created a few questions about whether or not he’ll struggle, but Lane Kiffin will be in his ear and helping him along. You have to believe he’ll be fine.
Ole Miss got the attention of the Tide by beating them in 2014. Beating them a second straight time in 2015 means they’ll have Alabama’s complete attention when their matchup rolls around this year. Regardless of who the quarterback is, that tends to not work out well for opposing teams.