Va. Tech was merely the announcement of Alabama as a national player. FIU and North Texas were tune-ups for the second string. Arkansas was a statement for the defensive front and secondary. Kentucky was Rolondo McClain's and the line backing corps' show, but Ole Miss will be the coming out party for the whole team.
It is amazing to think that Alabama is No. 3 in the country, has a top-10 offense and defense, and has not even played its best game. All that will change this weekend in Oxford.
The stage has been set by a well-balanced offense that has not even had Julio Jones making the plays. Mark Ingram may very well be the best all around back in America. He is ranked 19th in the country with 487 yards rushing, 5.9 per carry, two 100-yard games, and six rushing TDs.
That is just out of the backfield, as he also has 146 yards receiving, 10.4 yards per catch, and three additional TDs. He is fourth in the nation in total points!! How much better can he be?
The answer is a lot. Mark has been used sparingly during the two gimmie games and yet has still compiled some of the best stats in the country. Oh, his two 100-yard games came against Va. Tech and Kentucky. Unlike some other backs, that rack up the yards against FCS opponents, Mark is at his best in primetime. He is primed and ready to steal the show against an average run defense of Ole Miss.
Statically, Ole Miss looks good on D. Yards allowed per game: 274 (19th), Rushing yards allowed per game: 114.3 (38th), Passing yards allowed per game: 159.8 (13th), and points allowed per game: 10.8 (sixth). Those appear to be amazing stats, but let’s look a little closer at the competition. Memphis is 1-5 on the season and has the 81st-ranked offense in the FBS.
SE Louisiana is an FCS school who is 2-2 allowing over 90 points in its only two games with the FBS and still got 302 yards on the Rebels. South Carolina's 49th-ranked offense also beat Ole Miss. Finally, we have poor Vanderbilt, whose offense is at an impressive 67th in total yards in the nation.
Upon looking at the quality of opponent and the stats, one could come to the conclusion that the Ole Miss defense is highly overrated. The only team that ranked in the top 50 nationally also is the only team to defeat Ole Miss. What chance do they have against a team that rates in the top 10?
This summer, the Ole Miss offense was supposed to be the second-most explosive and productive in the SEC, right now they may be the sixth-ranked offense in the western division. They come in at 93rd in total yards per game, 40th in rushing, 79th in passing, and 30th in scoring (52 points were scored on SE La.). This is with the alleged dark horse contender for the Heisman Trophy, Jevan Snead, at the helm.
Some speculated he could be a top-five draft pick; right now he would be lucky to go in the top five rounds of the draft. Snead is 61st in passer efficiency at 165.5, a sub-par 51.4 percent completion rate, and a dismal nine to five TD to INT ratio. Out of the two quarterbacks playing in Oxford Saturday, the only one close to looking like a top-five pick is going to be in crimson and white.
The offense really is horrible; the numbers are not a result of competition. South Carolina may be ranked 26nd in yards allowed, but go look at the Georgia game. Vanderbilt is ranked 22nd in yards allowed, but the Commodores have holes all over the field; just watch the Miss St. game.
This offense cannot matchup anywhere on the field with the Bama D. Total yards, Bama is second, going against the 93rd offensive unit. Rushing yards, Bama D is fourth, going against the 40th-ranked rushing team. Passing, the team is 10th, Ole Miss offense is 79th, the only place it is even close is in points allowed; Alabama allows 14.4 points a game (13th) and Ole Miss scores 32.5 (30th).
This game will not be a pleasant site to watch for Ole Miss fans. The Alabama defense is going to pressure Snead all day long. The Bama front seven will be in the backfield so often they will start to receive mail there.
Jevan Snead will be hit and sacked more times than he has ever been in his entire carrier. This Offensive line has not recovered since Oher left for the draft.Look for Snead to make poor decisions with the ball much like in the 2nd half against Vandy, and then the rout will be on.
That is, of course, unless you believe the hype about the Ole Miss D. If one believes that they are truly a top-20 unit, then one can see how this could be a close game. If the stats are for real, then they might contain the Alabama offense.
Greg Hardy may come to life and shut down Greg McElroy, but even if that happens, what about Ingram, Richardson, and Grant, all of whom have more yards and a better yards per carry average than McCluster.
When the final whistle blows in Oxford, Mississippi tomorrow afternoon, Alabama will have cemented its claim as the No.1 team in the land. Ole Miss will fall back into the pit of mediocrity and Houston Nutt will be questioned once again.
Who knows, maybe Mark or Greg will start to become a regular name in the Heisman race. No one can know for sure, but my best guess would be Alabama 45, Ole Miss 13.