The Alabama No.1 will host the No.12 Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon at the SEC on CBS Game of the Week in what is set to be one of the craziest games of the season. The Crimson Tide have just completed a full and complete dismantling of Southern Miss, while the Rebels have had two weeks to prepare for the biggest game on the program since the Hugh Freeze era.
It will be a coaching match between teacher and student. Nick Saban of Alabama hired Rebels coach Lane Kiffin to lead the Crimson Tide offense ahead of the 2014 season, and the two won three SEC titles and the 2015 National Championship together. Kiffin was the catalyst for the evolution of Alabama’s offensive from an old-fashioned unit to the high-flying air assault it has become over the past half-decade.
Let’s break down the match and make choices directly and against the spread.
Alabama vs. Ole Miss: what to know
Can Alabama throw the ball? : The Crimson Tide struggled to move the ball to the ground in the 31-29 win over Florida two weeks ago, and currently rank 10th in the SEC with 151.75 yards per game. That will be essential in this game, as the best way to prevent this game from turning into a shootout is to keep Rebels quarterback Matt Corral on the sidelines for as long as possible. Can Alabama follow in a shootout? Most likely. After all, it has become his offensive identity over the past seven years. But the path of least resistance in this one is to win the possession battle time, control the clock, and prevent Kiffin from wearing out the Crimson Tide defense with his use of tempo.
It’s not just Matt Corral’s show: Ole Miss is the only team in the country to make the top 15 in both ground attack and passing attack. Of course, Corral has been awesome in the air. After all, that’s why he’s the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy ahead of this weekend’s games. But the running game led by Jerrion Ealy and Henry Parrish Jr. amassed 364 yards averaging over 6 yards per carry. When you throw Corral’s 158 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns, this offense is a running-based unit that thrives on tempo and playing action.
What exactly is the Ole Miss defense? : The Rebels were atrocious last season when they finished second to last in the country in total defense (519 yards per game) and 115th in yards per game at 6.67. Things have changed this season. Louisville has been limited to 4.61 yards per game and the Rebels haven’t allowed 400 or more yards in any of their three games this season – including against a Tulane team that has a relatively powerful offense. This is, however, a different type of test. The best way to limit the crimson tide in the air is to generate pressure in a variety of ways, so expect defensive coordinator DJ Durkin to be very creative in this one.
How to watch Alabama vs. Ole Miss live
Alabama vs Ole Miss prediction, pick
Featured Game | Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Ole Miss Rebels
This 79.5 plus / minus in this game is the highest of an FBS game in four seasons, suggesting that both teams will have great success going up and down the pitch. This will play Kiffin’s game. Ole Miss will use the tempo, Corral will have a record-breaking day in the air and on the ground, and this game will be in doubt deep into the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young will make a few late plays to win an instant classic in Tuscaloosa. Alabama will win but won’t cover. Prediction: Ole Miss (+14.5)
What college football picks can you confidently make in Week 5, and which Top 25 favorite will be hit hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the gap – all from a proven computer model that has grossed nearly $ 3,300 in profits over the past five+ seasons – and find out.