It’s been a while. Not since the 2008 game has Ole Miss come into Tuscaloosa with a decent football team. The last time Ole Miss beat Alabama was 2003, when Eli Manning led the Rebels to a 43-28 shredding of a sanctions-depleted Crimson Tide.
There have been some competitive meetings since then. From 2006 through 2008, the three games were decided by a total of 10 points. In the three games since the margins of victory were 19, 13 and 45 points.
Gone is Houston Nutt. In is Hugh Freeze who has a respectable 13-4 record in two seasons as a big boy football coach. The 3-1 Rebels only loss was a blowout at home at the hands of Texas.
Alabama is a 31-point favorite to make it eight straight wins against Ole Miss. That has “sucker bet” written all over it. Let’s be realistic—Ole Miss hasn’t won against Alabama in this state since 1988. Its first ever win against Alabama as a visitor was 1976 and all seven of their other wins were as the home team. When Alabama takes care of business against teams from Mississippi, the Tide rolls.
That said, the up-tempo offense Freeze has installed in Oxford is potent and speedy. In the weekly coaches’ teleconference yesterday, Tide coach Nick Saban heaped praise on Freeze and the Rebels’ team.
"I think that there's a lot of positives about what [Freeze] has done in terms of what he's implemented and what he's done and how their kids have responded to it."
“Their hurry-up offense is something that really gets defense out of their comfort zone,” Saban said. “We’re working hard to get a picture of that [in practice] and get a look on that.”
Ole Miss is good, but not very good. They will score some points Saturday night.
This is the Southeastern Conference. Anything is possible. Just look at the LSU win over Auburn last week, when a three TD favorite eked out a two-point win. Don’t be surprised if Ole Miss is still in the game in the third quarter. When teams believe in their coach and what he’s doing, strange things happen.
And for the first time since 2008, Ole Miss doesn’t suck.