To say Ole Miss has struggled against Alabama is an understatement. With 63 meetings under their metaphorical belts, the Crimson Tide has an overwhelming lead in the series, 52-9-1. Alabama is currently on a five-game winning streak and is heavily favored to make it six when the two face-off this weekend.
However, former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has Ole Miss playing better than it has in years. Quarterback Matt Corral is the current Heisman Trophy favorite, and the defense is actually decent this year (unlike last season).
But is it good enough to help Matt Corral lead the Rebels to a huge upset win?
Ole Miss Rebels
When Lane Kiffin took over Ole Miss, there was no doubt he would transform the Rebels offense— and he has. Kiffin took what can be described as a decent offense and turned it into a juggernaut in his first season in Oxford. A year later, it has become even better.
The Ole Miss offense ranks first in total yards and scoring through three games, fourth in rushing yards, 11th in passing yards, and 12th in passing efficiency. Being that productive against Louisville, Austin Peay, and Tulane is one thing, of course. Doing it against Alabama is another.
However, the Crimson Tide defense is not the dominant force it usually is this year.
But the Alabama offense is good and will demand the best out of Lane Kiffin’s defense. In last season’s game, the Crimson Tide scored touchdowns on its last eight drives of the game. Alabama could pretty much run or throw the ball at will. While it is not a great unit, the Ole Miss defense is a lot better than last season’s dreadful group.
If the Rebels are going to record the upset, Corral will need to have the kind of game that wins Heisman Trophies. He needs to prove that his gaudy stats through three games are not a product of the competition, but because he and the Ole Miss offense are that good.
That will not be easy against a passing defense that ranks 21st in the nation in passing yards allowed.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Fans and analysts have become so accustomed to Alabama dominating whoever they play until the playoffs that it is a shock when they do not dominate. So, when the Florida Gators were able to roar back and turn a blowout into a nail-biter, the naysayers spoke up. Could mighty Alabama be primed and ready for a fall during the 2021 college football season?
Under first-year offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, the offense has remained a juggernaut. It, of course, helps when you have a Heisman-caliber quarterback behind center, which Alabama has in Bryce Young (whose odds are second to only Corral’s). But Young does not have to do it all himself.
Like past Alabama teams, he has the luxury of a stellar offensive line, a few good running backs, and a handful of talented receivers. They may not be generating yards (25th in total offensive yards with 465.5 yards/game) like the previous three Alabama offenses (all three were top-ten units that averaged well over 500 yards. But they are scoring points (No. 3 in the nation with 46.5 points/game).
You could say they have done so against lesser teams—and they have (Mercer and Southern Mississippi). But Miami is a good (but not great) team. As for Florida, the team that nearly overcame a 21-3 hole against Alabama—yeah, they are pretty good.
Like last year’s matchup, the Alabama offense will score some points against the Ole Miss defense. The Rebels defense is better this season, so maybe not as many—but Alabama will score. The question is whether they can slow down Matt Corral.
In last year’s game, Corral threw for 365 yards and two touchdowns against an Alabama defense that finished the season ranked 18th in pass defense efficiency. Patrick Surtain moved on, but otherwise, the secondary returned four starters. However, the unit is not as efficient this year (54th in the nation).
So, there is a window of opportunity for Ole Miss, albeit a small one.
Bettors need to ask themselves before putting money down on this game whether they think Alabama might be slipping. There is not much evidence to substantiate that contention; just a win over Florida that was much closer than expected. While the statistical picture may not be as dominant as recent seasons, the Crimson Tide are playing good football.
But so is Ole Miss. However, while the Rebels offense looks like it will be good enough to score some points, it is hard to say whether the defense will get the one or two stops Ole Miss will need to win this game.
So, if you want to play it safe, go with Alabama via the moneyline; Ole Miss could win this one outright, but you are taking on a lot of risk betting Ole Miss via the moneyline. If you want to bet the spread, take Ole Miss and the points. Yes, Alabama won by 15 points last season, but Ole Miss looks a lot better this season. You cannot necessarily say the same thing about Alabama.
As for the total, we have a game featuring two powerhouse offenses with defenses that are okay but far from dominant. Yeah, we are going to see some points in this game. Take the over.