Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Ole Miss Rebels Complete Game Preview
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It’s time to see what this Alabama football team is made of.
The Crimson Tide will hit the road for Oxford, Mississippi, this weekend to take on the Ole Miss Rebels in an early-season clash between SEC unbeatens.
Ole Miss boasts maybe the conference’s best defense, while Alabama is hitting its stride on offense. The Rebels haven’t beaten Alabama since 2003 and will surely be eager for a signature win.
The Crimson Tide, meanwhile, want to assert their dominance in an SEC West that is looking historically good.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Date: Saturday, October 4
Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
Place: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Ole Miss IMG Network
Spread: Alabama by 6, according to OddsShark.com.
Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down what this game means for the SEC West going forward.
Alabama Keys to Victory
Manage the road
This is close to biggest-game-in-school-history territory for Ole Miss, so it will be a wild atmosphere in Oxford. Alabama is used to playing in those type of games on the road, but this will be as big as it gets.
Alabama can’t afford to fall behind early on the road in this kind of environment. It’s very possible with Ole Miss’ quick-strike offense. This one is more on the offense, which needs to sustain drives, especially early on, to keep the Rebels offense from getting in a rhythm. But the key will be to avoid a slow start and get the offense going sooner rather than later.
Ole Miss Keys to Victory
Harass Blake Sims
A big unknown in this game is how first-year quarterback Blake Sims will respond to his first true road test. Ole Miss can get in his head early with an aggressive pass rush and a secondary that leads the SEC in interceptions so far with nine. That can lead to big plays on defense that could decide the game.
Attack the secondary
If there’s one weakness to this Alabama team it’s the secondary, which has had its ups and downs through four games this year. Bo Wallace needs to show that he can consistently throw the ball, and if the Crimson Tide’s season has been any indication so far, he’ll have the opportunity to do that.
Alabama Players to Watch
Alabama’s first-year starter under center will be under a ton of pressure in this game not only to execute but to make the right calls in what will be a deafening stadium. Sims has answered every question about him so far in resounding fashion, and his next big one is how will he fare in that environment? We’ll find out Saturday.
In a Rebels offense that features a lot of misdirection and multiple formations before the snap, it’ll be up to DePriest to read and react to get the defense on the same page. Ole Miss struggled to move the ball on Alabama last year, in part because C.J. Mosley did just that. Now it’s DePriest’s turn.
Ole Miss Players to Watch
Wallace has always been regarded as a second- or third-tier quarterback, at least in the SEC, but this is his chance to take that next step. If the Rebels offense wants to be able to move the ball well enough to pull the upset, it all starts with Wallace.
The Ole Miss safety made news after the Rebels’ win over Memphis saying Alabama isn’t as good as it has been in the past. Whether it’s true or not, those comments have already made their way to Tuscaloosa and are serving as fuel for the Crimson Tide. Prewitt is one of the leaders on a ferocious defense that Alabama will be looking to attack early and often.
What They're Saying
Alabama safety Landon Collins on Prewitt’s comments: “I had a lot of fans tweet at me and mention me on Twitter. I read it and stuff like that, but that's how he felt. We're definitely going to give them our best game and see who comes out with the W.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban on Wallace: “His ability to execute his position based on his experience probably minimizes a lot of bad plays—which makes them much more effective, makes him much more effective. They’ve made a lot of explosive plays on teams throwing the ball down the field. They’ve got great play-action passes. He’s done a really good job. Bo has done a very good job of executing those things. So I just think the experience is something that you can’t instill. It’s something that you have to go through and learn and it’s a tremendous advantage.”
Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace: “We have to win these big games to take our program to the next level."
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze on expectations for the game: "We expect to compete Saturday. We expect to have a chance to win it."
Alabama 31, Ole Miss 13
Before the season, I picked Alabama to lose this game because of question marks on defense and uncertainty at quarterback. The defense is getting healthy and coming together, and Blake Sims has been much better than most thought in the preseason. The Rebels are a good team but haven’t been dominant like Alabama has. The Crimson Tide may have a slow start at first but will take control as the game goes on.
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