In 2007, I was dating a girl who was a student at Ole Miss. I spent many a weekend in Oxford and the bed that I slept in had a picture on the wall above it: My girlfriend, with Eli Manning. Autographed. She was eat slap up with Rebel pride and I wish we had lasted at least until that football season started. I really enjoyed that town and that time. I brought a friend with me a couple times and we drove to Memphis and into Arkansas. Last I heard, she was married now and I hope her 2 little girls she had are healthy and happy. As for the woman, I hope she's absolutely miserable tomorrow.
Ole Miss has a 5th year senior at QB, who they misguidedly believe to be the SEC's best gunslinger. In truth, he's no better than Jevan Snead, their last "Heisman candidate".Ole Miss was also highly overrated in Snead's final season, and talking trash with expectations of beating Alabama. That worked out.
Before last year's game, Bo Wallace did several interviews in which he talked trash about Alabama. We had just beaten Texas A&M 49-42, and he took the opportunity to point out that he felt like Ole Miss had far better receivers and overall talent around him than the Aggies had, and therefore they would have no trouble putting up a lot of points on Alabama's defense. Then-freshman WR LaQuon Treadwell also promised that Ole Miss would upset Alabama. When it was all said and done, they tucked tail and drove back to Oxford with a 25-0 defeat. Keep talking, boys.
This year, you would think that Wallace and his cohorts would think that the right thing to do would be to remain humble, be confident but not boastful, and prepare with everything in them to actually beat Alabama.
You would be wrong. Wallace is again running his mouth. But so is everyone in the state of Mississippi. Ole Miss isn't the only team over there looking forward to a big game on Saturday. Mississippi St plays Texas A&M and they are looking to make a statement as well. The Secretary Of State actually went on the Paul Finebaum Show yesterday and declared this to be the biggest weekend in the history of the state of Mississippi, as far as college football is concerned. He said that when both their schools win, as he believes they will, that he should just make Monday a state holiday for everyone to celebrate. His employees should know that they are indeed going to be headed to work on that day. They are apparently going to have huge movie screens on the Grove for the fans to watch their expected victory over the best team in the land. ESPN's College Gameday is even going to be there to see this and you know they are all rooting for Alabama to fall. They always are.
After 4 games, Alabama is averaging 42 points and 500 yards of offense a game. Give Lane Kiffin the credit he is due, or ride the Sims Train like I have been doing since August, but no matter who you are, you can't deny that Alabama has an offense unlike any we have seen in Tuscaloosa in recent memory. While it is true that we have yet to face a team that was ranked higher than 75th in yards allowed, the obvious improvement is obvious. Alabama Football is no longer "football in a phone booth". Sure, we can line up and smash you while setting up play action here and there if we want. But we can also run the pistol, the HUNH, or hell even the wishbone if we chose. We can do anything we want right now, and with Kiffin calling the shots, we will probably see 50 different formations. That's an exaggeration, but you get the point. We've never seen a receiver like Amari Cooper get so many balls thrown his way, and everyone knows it coming. But they can't stop it. You can't just line up your best DB on Cooper and hope to shut him down, because as soon as you do, Kiffin will shift Coop to the other side of the field at the last moment or put him on a linebacker. Julio Jones was the most talented WR to ever play at Bama, and I can't even imagine what kind of numbers he could've amassed with this level of downright outscheming everyone that we are doing right now.
But if we can get past all the bravado and bragging about how good Alabama is, and talk about the actual matchup for a bit...
This is where I have to be fair to Ole Miss. They really do appear to be a little better than they usually are. It may not be the same song and dance for them as it has been for the past 50 years. Their defense has improved a lot and is probably the best they've had in several years. They are 4th in the nation in total defense. This will easily be the best defense Alabama will have faced to this point. Robert Nkemdiche is an NFL player right now, but the Rebels only rank 67th in sacks, which is 8th in the SEC. They will have to do better than that to get to Blake Sims, who has proven that just getting to him isn't a guarantee that you will stop him. Nkemdiche isn't the team leader in sacks though. That would be Marquis Haynes, who doesn't even play all the time. So we will have to watch out for him. But the Rebs are only 34th against the run, which is pretty terrible considering their Charmin soft schedule thus far. They've seen nothing like TJ Yeldon, Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, or even Altee Tenpenny. Tyren Jones tore a ligament and had to have surgery, or I'd put him in this mix for some late game carries as well.
Serderius Bryant, D T Shackleford, Denzel Nkemdiche (Robert's brother), and Keith Lewis are all solid players at linebacker, with Shackleford being the heaviest hitter, and Bryant the best at using his speed in open space.
Ole Miss has 3 DB's who will be missing this game, and their starting corner Senquez Golson might miss the game as well. So we might have a true freshman at one of the corner spots in this game for Sims to exploit.
Bo Wallace currently has a 71% completion rate and has thrown 11 TD's so far, but he also has thrown 6 picks. So I think we can expect a pick or two from him, which should make one of the major differences in this game.
The Ole Miss running game is almost worthless without Jeff Scott, and doesn't even earn much of a mention here other than to say that.
The WR's and their TE Evan Engram make up as fierce a group as Alabama should see this year, provided they can catch all the balls that Wallace throws at our DB's and LB's. LaQuon Treadwell is no worse than the 2nd best player in the SEC at his poition. Second only to our guy of course. But he's not all they have. They have 3 or 4 other guys that could fill the top role for them if they didn't have Treadwell. Eddie Jackson and Tony Brown will have to eat a few bowls of wheaties before this game, as this will be their first real test since West Virginia, when Brown didn't even play.
Ole Miss's offensive line is complete garbage outside of Laremy Tunsil. They are 52nd in sacks allowed, so we should be able to harass the QB plenty, which is another reason we should get a couple of picks out him, and probably the biggest reason they can't run the ball that well. I really think we could play dime and nickel and bracket their receivers the whole game and shut them down without even focusing on the running game. But that's just me.
The last time Ole Miss beat Alabama, George Bush was in his first term in the White House, Finding Nemo was in the theaters, Apple had just launched the itunes store, and Lebron James had yet to play in an NBA game.
Alabama is 51-8-2 all time against Ole Miss.
I think Bama will have to ride the first wave of emotion from Ole Miss. It wouldn't surprise me for Ole Miss to score first, but don't expect them to do shit after the 1st quarter. Might see something like 17-10 at halftime with a final score something like 31-13.