After the 40-7 embarrassment of Florida Atlantic in Week 4 action, the first-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will look to continue their dominant ways at home this week against the Ole Miss Rebels.
Led by quarterback A.J. McCarron and a ferocious defensive attack, the Tide have both an astoundingly efficient offense and give up a minuscule 5.3 points per game to opponents.
Hoping to buck that trend is a young Rebels squad that comes in 3-1 and coming off their own dominant 39-0 victory over Tulane. The true calling card of the Ole Miss squad is their rushing offense, which is led by scintillating junior Jeff Scott. As big underdogs, it's indisputable that the Rebels will come into Saturday's contest looking to shake the foundation of college football with a shocking victory.
With that in mind, here's a look at everything you need to know about this vital contest between SEC schools.
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
When: Saturday, September 29 at 9:15 p.m. ET
Spread: Alabama -30 (Bovada)
Though it seems like a certainty that the Crimson Tide will come away with victory on Saturday, a 30-point spread for any team has to give any bettor pause.
Alabama has won its last three games by 30-plus points, but each of those opponents had far more inherent flaws than Ole Miss. With a running attack that gains 259.9 yards per game (12th in the nation), the Rebels have a strong ground game that could wear down the time and make this game closer than expected.
Call me conservative, but I'll take the points. Even if the Tide win by three scores, they will look great in the voters' eyes and still cover the spread with ease.
Over/Under: 55.5 (Vegas Insider)
This is a line that has been slowly moving its way up throughout the week and for good reason. The Tide are not going to be able to completely shut down Scott on the ground, and Donte Moncrief is seemingly inches away from a breakaway touchdown every time Bo Wallace passes him the ball.
And considering the relative ease with which Alabama has scored thus far, it seems likely that this game will come very close or eclipse the 55-point mark.
Nonetheless, I'm leaning with picking the under here. There is always the possibility that the Tide eviscerates Ole Miss and leave the over/under onus entirely on their own shoulders.
Ole Miss Injury Report (via USA Today)
DT Uriah Grant, Hand, Questionable
LB D.T. Shackelford, Knee, Out for Season
Alabama Injury Report (via USA Today)
RB Jalston Fowler, Knee, Out for Season
DB Jarrick Williams, Knee, Out for Season
WR Chris Black, Shoulder, Out
Anytime the No. 1 team in the nation is involved, there is obviously a cavalcade of implications for the BCS.
With non-conference teams like Florida State and Oregon looking like juggernauts, it's no longer about whether Alabama wins, but how the team looks in the box score.
It's almost a certainty that the Tide's schedule dictates they make the national championship game if undefeated. Nonetheless, Alabama put distance between itself and the rest of the competition by dominating opponents and will need to continue that trend against Ole Miss to avoid coming back to the pack.
In the seemingly impossible event of Nick Saban's squad losing on Saturday, it wouldn't really cause much of a calamity. Oregon would move atop the standings and whichever team looks better between Florida State and LSU this weekend would slide in at No. 2.
Keys for Ole Miss
Even putting a scare in this Tide juggernaut on Saturday would prove to be a moral victory for this upstart Rebels squad.
However, to pull off a victory, they will need career-best performances from each of their offensive stars and a stonewalling of the Alabama offense.
For Ole Miss, a ton of that offensive onus will weigh on the shoulders of its embattled sophomore quarterback. In his only true test of the season, Wallace failed miserably against Texas in the Rebels' 66-31 loss. The dual-threat threw three interceptions and failed to get moving on the ground as he looked overmatched and unprepared throughout the game.
Considering Alabama's penchant for eviscerating inconsistent quarterbacks, it doesn't look too promising.
Without a strong aerial attack from Wallace, the Tide will be able to hone in on stopping Scott from breaking an outside run and suffocate the entire Rebels attack.
Keys for Alabama
Based on talent alone, the Tide should have a relatively easy time dispatching of yet another overwhelmed opponent at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The offense has been the most efficiently marvelous unit in all of college football. McCarron has yet to throw an interception in 81 pass attempts thus far while T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy have emerged as perhaps the best two-headed rushing attack in the nation.
Continuing avoiding mistakes and playing disciplined defense are both key to a Tide victory, but those are calling cards of every Saban team.
Systematically picking apart the Ole Miss defense and pounding Wallace into submission are vital to obtaining another statement win with the whole world watching.
The Tide have done nothing to evoke any worry from rankers thus far and expect that trend to continue on Saturday.
While the 30-point line is heavy-handed, look for Alabama to swallow up the Ole Miss offense and efficiently attack the opposing defense en route to an easy win.
There is just too much talent on the Tide's side and too little experience for the Rebels to make any other selection.
Score: Alabama 34, Ole Miss 14
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