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Jumbo Package: Ole Miss at Alabama expected to be a close one

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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<p zoompage-fontsize="15" style="">Alabama vs Ole Miss Photo by Kent Gidley/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone. As you well know, Alabama takes on Ole Miss tomorrow. Your previews:

This 79.5 over/under in this game is the highest in an FBS game in four seasons, which suggests that both teams will have plenty of success moving up and down the field. That will play right into Kiffin’s hands. Ole Miss will use tempo, Corral will have a banner day through the air and on the ground, and this game will be in doubt deep into the fourth quarter. In the end, Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young will make a couple of plays late to win an instant classic in Tuscaloosa. Alabama will win but won’t cover. Prediction: Ole Miss (+14.5)

I think OLE MISS +14.5 (-108) is an absolute steal. QB Matt Corral and the Rebels offense is legit, and they should put some serious points on the board, even against the Tide.

Alabama -14.5 (-112) has the one thing Ole Miss hasn’t had yet, and that’s a test. They escaped at Florida, and know how to win a close game. That experience will help them pull another one out of the hat here, but the Rebels will keep it super close.

Giving Ole Miss two touchdowns feels dangerous in almost any situation this season with Matt Corral putting up the numbers he has been doing. But there may only be two teams capable of handling that at home. One of them just so happens to be Alabama. Ole Miss will hope to get into a back-and-forth game with the Tide, but Nick Saban’s program isn’t about to let the Rebels have their way in Tuscaloosa. Alabama may cover this one easier than you might think. Alabama 42, Ole Miss 24

Hummer: Ole Miss +15.5 — Personally, I think Alabama is on legitimate upset alert this weekend. So, if you give me two-plus touchdowns and I’m ecstatic. This is going to be a high scoring game – take the over – and I think Ole Miss is good enough, especially coming off a bye, to strain a Crimson Tide defense that showed some cracks two weeks ago against Florida. Alabama is a better team and manages to stay unbeaten. But this is close. … Alabama 45, Ole Miss 41.

Alabama 51, Ole Miss 41: Ole Miss is the upstart challenger. Corral and Kiffin have something nice going in Oxford. But it’s still a little too early in Ole Miss’ rebuild to take down the Tide.

Alabama has too much depth, too much talent and too much confidence to let a close one slip. Both quarterbacks show why they’re Heisman Trophy frontrunners, but just like last year, Alabama pulls away at the end.

I generally try to list one from the opponent’s beat last, and that one is from the Clarion Ledger. After looking at what both teams have done this season, I think the over/under may be a bit absurd. Both teams are likely to approach this one the same way on defense: conservatively, in effort to limit big plays. I don’t think Saban will completely abandon the outside press coverage as Ole Miss routinely does, but I do think that there will be a focus on keeping everything in front and making tackles. The question then becomes, which offense is likely to have more success against such a strategy? Ole Miss has more experience at quarterback, but you’d be hard pressed to find another position group that will be at an advantage, and if Corral is an advantage over Young it isn’t by much.

The one and only reason that Ole Miss is getting the love it is in this game is Lane Kiffin’s familiarity with Alabama’s defense and how to exploit it. If Alabama changes it up and plays something soft and boring, and continues to pound the ball with Brian Robinson, the massive talent advantage on both sides should take over. Ole Miss will turn it over more and settle for more field goal attempts. Robinson, Jase McClellan and the tight end duo of Cameron Latu and Jahleel Billingsley will come up big in the red zone. It says here that Alabama will bring home a workmanlike 38-23 victory that falls well short of the high flying expectations.

Of course, that is merely my opinion. Vote and give us yours in the comments.


What will be the result of Ole Miss at Alabama?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Lane train is derailed, Alabama covers 14.5
    (352 votes)
  • 52%
    Rebels make it respectable, Tide by 1-14
    (468 votes)
  • 7%
    Rebels pull the upset (FLAGGED(
    (71 votes)
891 votes total Vote Now

Saban raised some eyebrows yesterday with this take on analytics.

“Well, I’m not an analytics guy,” Saban said. I know coaches who are and I know coaches who we had on our staff in the past that very much are. And I like for our coaches to look at the analytics and then come and bring them up to me and I can say ‘That don’t make any sense.’ Or I can say ‘That’s an interesting thought.’

“But philosophically, some guy who hasn’t played football ever and he sits at a computer and he puts a bunch of stuff into a computer. And you have to have a feel for your team, too. One of the questions I have is how good are we in those situations? Do we have good plays to call in those situations? Do we feel good about our opportunity to convert in those situations? So all these things are factors in the game relative to how the other team plays and what they do.”

Obviously the word “analytics” can mean many things, but predictive data is undoubtedly more useful at the pro level where everyone has near the same talent level. Saban’s focus has always been, and will always be, recruiting and developing better players than everyone else. Do that and most strategies will work.

Chris Low and Alex Scarborough have a great Kiffin/Saban story.

In the Florida game that 2014 season, Kiffin pulled Sims and Drake aside before the game and devised a play for Drake to split out wide as a receiver and Sims to line up in the shotgun in an empty backfield. On the first play from scrimmage, Drake found himself matched against a linebacker and ran a slant-and-go route for an easy 75-yard touchdown reception.

Kiffin said they had never practiced that “sluggo” route with Drake, but that he had this “weird feeling” that Florida would be in man coverage.

“I thought about it at the last minute and we put it in in the locker room,” said Kiffin, adding that Bush ran that similar play for a long touchdown against Notre Dame in 2004.

That is simply amazing. If you haven’t read that piece yet, it is well worth your time.

Last, check out this little nugget from Clemson in response to Robert Griffin III criticizing their offensive scheme as “archaic.”

“The response I would have to ‘archaic’ is it’s the same plays that they’re running at North Carolina, it’s the same plays that (are) being run all around the country. We’re just not having success,” Elliott said. “You execute the plays, you have success, you score points – then it’s not questioned as much.

“Everyone wants you to go be creative and think outside the box. Well, you’ve got to be able to execute the fundamentals first and foremost.”

Swinney adamantly defended Elliott this week, saying there’s no one he trusts more, and called him “brilliant” on multiple occasions.

So, you have an offense that has looked terrible with a massive talent advantage against Georgia Tech and NC State, but the offensive coordinator takes no responsibility and the head coach thinks the OC is a genius.

What could go wrong?

That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.