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20/20 Hindsight: Alabama vs Ole Miss

If everyone was being coy about the prospects of this team until now, that changed dramatically sometime in the third quarter of the game yesterday afternoon. After a spectacular defensive performance in Oxford, suddenly the Crimson Tide is a fashionable selection to play in Pasadena on Jan. 7.

But as pleasant as it may be to consider these possibilities on a lazy Sunday morning, keep in mind there's a hell of a lot of football left to play this season. Just ask this guy. So, with that in mind, lets give a gander to what the boys in the press are saying...

Pete Thamel | New York Times

Amid the mist, the big picture of this college football season became a lot clearer. No. 3 Alabama eviscerated No. 20 Ole Miss, 22-3, using a bruising running game, a suffocating defense and opportunistic special teams to make a legitimate claim that it could be the country’s best team.

Matt Hinton | Yahoo! Sports

Teams driven by the defense and running game are destined for some close calls; at some point this year, 'Bama really is going to need Tiffin to drive home the game-winner in a tight game. But based on their consistent dominance throughout the first half of the schedule, I'll be damned if I have an idea right now how anyone on the second half is going to push the Tide to that point.

Chris Low | ESPN

You can see it from a mile away. We’re not even to the midway point for some teams in the SEC, but you can see it coming. Alabama and Florida are on a collision course to meet again in the SEC Championship Game.

David Brandt | Clarion Ledger

Last season, Alabama won its first 12 games of the season before losing its last two in the SEC Championship Game and Sugar Bowl. But the way the Crimson Tide played during Saturday's 22-3 win over Ole Miss, it looks like they just might have the talent to finish the deal.

Andy Staples | Sports Illustrated

On a day when the offense stalled five times in the red zone, Alabama still crushed Ole Miss, 22-3. But [linebacker Rolando] McClain's reaction to them should help explain why Alabama might be the safest bet to get to Pasadena this season. The Crimson Tide won't relax.

Kevin Scarbinsky | Birmingham News

This team is headed toward its own crack at the crystal football. That’s not a wisecrack, or a delusion, inspired after inhaling the fumes on a pregame walk through the Grove. It’s a prediction. See you in Pasadena.

Josh Moon | Montgomery Advertiser

It seems comical now to think that anyone believed this Ole Miss team could challenge for the West Division, especially since that division includes Ala­bama. But a lot of us believed just that. And we forgot one undeni­able fact: defense wins champi­onships. Ole Miss's defense is not bad. But when Alabama's de­fense is playing at its best, it's one of the best you've ever seen.

Michael Bradley | FoxSports

Although Nick Saban will have reason to complain about his offense's inability to close the deal after getting great field position, he can't complain about the way Alabama went on the road and dominated an SEC West rival from the beginning. There are still plenty of challenges on the Alabama schedule, but all indications are that we'll be watching a reprise of last year's SEC title game in December in Atlanta. And it could well pit a pair of unbeaten teams against each other.

Paul Gattis | Huntsville Times

This was cold. This was ruthless. This was relentless. This was a 22-3 win that could not have been more convincing as a 50-0 blowout. Alabama pounded Ole Miss without conscience, without regard to the largest crowd in stadium history, without concern for the growing notion that the Crimson Tide may indeed be the nation's best.

cocknfire | Team Speed Kills

The Tide's offense seemed to regress Saturday, or at least become human again; its first three drives into the red zone produced field goals, as did two of its final three -- the other was a fumble. That's seven possessions that made it inside the 20, with one TD to show for it. That's enough to defeat a team like Ole Miss, which was obviously not prepared to be a legitimate candidate for the SEC title. Florida and perhaps LSU will not be so generous.

Tommy Hicks | Press-Register

What the Crimson Tide's offense has proven thus far is that it has the weapons to attack opponents in a number of ways. It has proven that it will use whatever approach is available to its advantage. Perhaps its greatest asset is patience. And did we mention the defense? Alabama's defense is the reason the offense can exercise such patience, the reason it can remain calm during those times when things aren't working as well as it would like.

Damon Young | Tide Corner

Alabama's defense is the type of unit that can carry a team the whole season. Bama's offense sputtered Saturday and you have to credit that to the Rebel defenders. They came to play. Still, even with the offense unable to punch it into the end zone, they were effective at holding the ball. I just would have liked to have seen them pound the ball a bit more in the second half.

Ivan Maisel | ESPN

When Alabama dominates, it's never as pretty as USC. Nick Saban's teams don't put up a point a minute the way Florida does. But don't mistake the No. 3 Crimson Tide's 22-3 defeat of No. 20 Ole Miss as anything but a blowout.

Mitch Dobbs |

Are there aspects that could be better? Is it too early to celebrate? Could anything derail this joy ride through college football’s toughest conference? Yes, yes, and yes. Could anyone in his or her right mind have asked for a better first half to the 2009 season? Hell no.

crimson daddy | Third Saturday in Blogtober

Nutt closed practices this week for this?

Don Borst | FoxSports

Every other team already has a loss or a significant flaw that will keep it from being able to pass either Texas or Florida. In the case of No. 3 Alabama, the Tide would have to beat Florida in the SEC title game — and that surely won't happen this season; not with the inconsistent Bama offense and the Gators' ability to play great in big games.

Jesse Kurtz |

For what it's worth... I think Alabama is SCARY GOOD! They may be the most complete football team I have seen all season. Greg McElroy's ability to use a variety of weapons, Mark Ingram's has had his best rushing performances in the biggest games (172 yards, 1 TD against Mississippi) and the defense is big, fast and strong.