The 21st ranked Ole Miss Rebels (3-0) face a stiff test on the road against top-ranked and defending national champion Alabama (3-0)on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL at 6:30pm ET. The Crimson Tide already have one big SEC win under their belt after surviving explosive Texas A&M in Week 3 by a score of 49-42. The Rebels have jumped out to a 3-0 start for the first time since 1989 with wins over Vanderbilt (39-35), Southeast Missouri (31-13) and Texas (44-23). The Rebels are coming off of a bye week last week. Alabama defeated Colorado State 31-6 at home last week, after their excitng 49-42 shootout win at then-6th ranked Texas A&M in week 3.
Bo Wallace, the Rebels’ quarterback, has three top wide receivers in Evan Engram, Donte Moncrief and Laquon Treadwell who have combined for 38 catches for 502 yards and 4 touchdowns this season, and both Engram and Treadwell are freshman. Ole Miss’ offense ranks 6th in the SEC with 38 points per game, and its 114 points through three games are its most since 2003. Ole Miss has run for 250 yards per game, 2nd best in the SEC, and senior running back Jeff Scott has run for 302 yards on 31 carries (9.74 YPC). The Rebel defense has allowed an average of 114.3 YPG on the ground.
The Alabama offense has been much more pass-happy this season than at any time under Nick Saban, last week in their win over Colorado State they ran for only 66 yards, their lowest rushing total since in 3 years. Their 132 YPG on the ground ranks last in the SEC, and they are second worst in the conference in total offense with 370.7 YPG. The disparity between rushing yards and passing is not typical of a Saban team, with the Tide running for 396 yards while passing for 716 this season. The defense has been solid with the exception of the meltdown against Texas A&M, holding their other 2 opponents to fewer than 280 total yards.
Mississippi vs. Alabama Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Mississippi Rebels +14.5
@Alabama Crimson Tide -14.5
Over 55 (-110)
Under 55 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Mississippi vs. Alabama Pick
Alabama leads the all-time series against Ole Miss 46-9-2, the last win for the Rebels was a 43-28 win at home in 2003 and the Tide have won 11 straight meetings head-to-head in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama was undoubtedly better on both sides of the ball last year while Ole Miss was undoubtedly worse, and the Tide only beat Ole Miss by 19 points last season. The Alabama offense has struggled against lesser opponents this season, which is a cause for skepticism about their ability to run the ball effectively against a stout Rebel defense. With Alabama having to replace most of their offensive line from last season, it appears as though the Tide is still struggling to find their rhythm on that side of the ball. They are nowhere near the dominate unit that averaged 227.5 YPG on the ground last season. Freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche ranks 3rd in the SEC in tackles for loss with 1.33 per game, and could cause problems for the Tide upfront.
Ole Miss has the weapons on offense to score against an Alabama defense that while still very formidable, is not as strong as the unit that carried them to the national title last season. The Rebels will be able to run the football, while Alabama will struggle in this department. The Ole Miss pass defense has struggled somewhat which is a cause for concern, but the cushion of such a huge line makes this deficiency a more than acceptable risk. The line is far too high for what should be a competitive game, take the Rebels and the points in this one.