Happy Friday, everyone. The Lane Train rolls into Tuscaloosa tomorrow, and confidence in Alabama is at a 15 year low. Your previews:
Alabama was able to get pressure on the quarterback last week, but the five sacks should have been more as USF’s Byrum Brown was able to escape the pocket. Jaxson Dart has the same ability, so it will be important to not only pressure him but contain the mobile quarterback. The defense isn’t the concern here, however.
Offensively, I need to see more from Jalen Milroe and the offensive line. If they have strong showings Saturday afternoon, the score will be a lot more lopsided than one touchdown. But given the inconsistency we’ve seen up to this point, it’s hard to go with more than that. This team believes in Milroe, and if he has time to throw, I think he’ll be alright. Mixing in some designed runs might not be a bad idea, though.
Score prediction: Alabama 34, Ole Miss 27
Lane Kiffin poked the bear this week, and if this were any season in the previous 15 years, I’d pick Nick Saban’s team to drop a hammer on the Rebels. But from what we’ve seen so far, I don’t think the Tide have it in them. Jalen Milroe should perform better than he did two weeks ago, but Ole Miss has a decided edge at quarterback with Jaxson Dart.
Ole Miss 26, Alabama 24
Alabama 31, Ole Miss 28: Jalen Milroe returning to the Crimson Tide offense makes a difference, and now that he knows he’s the starter, he plays with more confidence. The Rebels have one of the best offenses in the country, but the defense learns from its mistakes against Texas to hold Ole Miss just enough to win.
The Ole Miss air attack is extremely explosive and Alabama’s defense will need to be ready. The Crimson Tide’s secondary is very talented and has been pretty good in pass defense, so perhaps it can contain Dart of the Rebel offense.
On the other side of the ball, Nick Saban announced that Jalen Milroe will be the starting quarterback for Alabama in this game. The redshirt sophomore started the first two games with some mixed results, before not playing against South Florida. He’s dangerous with his legs and could make some big plays with his scrambling ability against a defense that loves to bring pressure.
Expect this game to be very exciting, but for Alabama to cover the spread when all is said and done.
On paper, Ole Miss is a nightmare matchup for Alabama. Offensively, the Rebels have everything in place to challenge what has been a weak Crimson Tide pass defense. Quarterback Jaxson Dart has 852 yards passing and seven touchdowns to just one interception. Jordan Watkins, Dayton Wade and Tre Harris make up one of the best wide receiver trios Alabama will see all year. On defense, Ole Miss is tied for third in the SEC with 10 sacks. Alabama’s offensive line allowed five sacks against South Florida last week, which contributed to poor quarterback play. Everything is in place for Ole Miss to get its first win against Nick Saban since 2015, and bettors should feel confident laying down on an inflated Rebels money line that could yield big results. Prediction: Ole Miss ML (+218)
Beating Georgia Tech and Tulane isn’t amazing, but the final results for the Rebe;s were strong. Alabama had to limp to do anything right - oooooh, it was raining - against USF.
The Tide will grind this out - Ole Miss is overdue for a multi-turnover game - but don’t be totally shocked if the storyline after this is the effectiveness of the Rebel attack that moves up and down the field without a problem. Even so …
Milroe will throw better than expected, and the O line will be challenged to take over in the second half after Ole Miss owns the first 30 minutes.
Alabama 27, Ole Miss 24
Ole Miss 27, Alabama 23: This is the year for Kiffin. The Crimson Tide has offensive vulnerabilities that align themselves with the Rebels’ defensive strengths, and Ole Miss looks to be getting healthy on offense just in time. The Rebels have the better quarterback in this matchup, too.
That last one is from the Clarion-Ledger. Ole Miss fans have some confidence that they can come into Bryant-Denny and beat Alabama straight up. Will they?
I predicted that Alabama would beat Texas because Jalen Milroe would prove to be the better quarterback. And here’s the thing: he very nearly did it. In fact, one could argue that he was through three quarters of the game, despite the interceptions. Two big plays in the fourth quarter decided the game and pushed Ewers’ stats over the top, but I’ll say again that Alabama can beat every team on the schedule if Milroe can play the same game but cut down on the turnovers. And I do think that’s possible.
Will he, though? That is yet to be seen. College football is always something of a crapshoot, but it hasn’t been where Alabama is concerned for some time, particularly in Tuscaloosa. Ole Miss has some gaudy offensive stats, but they have come against suspect competition and they’ve had some struggles in games. In fact, the past two weeks things looked pretty rough for them until later on in the game, but they were able to turn it on late.
That’s exactly the formula that Texas used to upend Alabama.
Still, I think Alabama has an overall talent advantage here. Tyler Booker will return and Saban called him the leader of the offensive line this week. Jalen Milroe has unequivocally been declared the starting QB and Ty Simpson the backup, so there is no more uncertainty there. Milroe has had an opportunity to prepare for this game as the unquestioned starter, and the Ole Miss defense hasn’t been very good.
I’m going to choose to believe for one more week that Alabama can put it together, at least to a degree. The defense will do enough, and Milroe will have something of a coming out party. Let’s call it Alabama 34, Ole Miss 23.
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
Lane Train derails, Tide by 10+
Alabama gets it done, but it’s close. Tide by 1-9
Ole Miss pulls the upset (FLAGGED!)
Saban had some interesting things to say yesterday, starting with a pretty simple explanation for why Milroe never entered the game last week.
Saban told ESPN on Thursday that he told all three quarterbacks he would “give them all chances in games,” ESPN’s Chris Lowe wrote.
“That was it. Nothing else,” Saban said, per ESPN. “I’ve got confidence in Jalen. I believe in him. The one thing that we’ve always talked about is you make enough good plays, but you’ve got to eliminate the devastating plays, the ones that are killers. It happened twice in the Texas game, but I think he’s learned from it.”
In today’s day and age, keeping that promise is probably important for sustained success in the transfer portal. Buchner and to a lesser extent Simpson got the opportunity to showcse themselves for others even if they didn’t win the job at Alabama. How that went is up to individual interpretation.
Saban continues to express confidence in the team while acknowledging that execution has to improve.
“We’ll respond. We’ve got a better team than the way we played last week,” Saban said. “I don’t know if we’ve got a good enough team to beat Ole Miss or anybody else we play, but we’ve got a better team than we played last week. Texas has a damn good team, probably one of the best five teams in the country and we were ahead of them in the fourth quarter.
“I like this team. I like this group. They’ve worked hard. They’ve got a good attitude about things. We just got to execute better and pay better attention to detail, and we’ve got some areas on our team that need to play better.”
Last, Kiffin and Saban expressed mutual appreciation of their time working together.
“Lane did a fantastic job when he was here,” Saban said, praising his former offensive coordinator. “We kind of went from old school ball to modern day ball I want to call it, in terms of doing some things with RPOs and advantage throws and really sort of set us off for the future of what we do on offense and what we’ve been able to do on offense.”
“You continue to be appreciative for the opportunity he gave, but not just that. People give people opportunities all the time,” Kiffin said Monday. “But, the things that I learned from him defensively, things I learned from him organizationally, discipline, so I’m extremely grateful to him. He really helped me in a really challenging time in my life.
“Like they kind of say sometimes I guess, you don’t really figure out yourself sometimes until you’re torn down and have to rebuild yourself, and I’m grateful to him for being a part of that process.”
If he continues to have success in Oxford, Lane will likely be on the short list whenever Saban decides to hang it up.
That’s about it for today. Have a great weekend.