Week two is complete and the Alabama Crimson Tide have taken care of business again. As expected, the Tide blew out the Arkansas State Red Wolves 57-7. Although Bama dominated the game from the opening kick, Arkansas State has nothing to hang their heads about. The Red Wolves were able to put up decent numbers. The Red Wolves had 391 yards of total offense and scored a touchdown against the number one team in the nation. A team that is quite possibly the best team that Bama head coach Nick Saban has ever had. This weekend, we preview an SEC showdown as the Crimson Tide battle Ole Miss.
Alabama Crimson Tide: Know Your Foe – Ole Miss Edition
Week three marks the beginning of conference play for the Tide as they travel to Oxford, Mississippi to face SEC West foe, the Ole Miss Rebels. This rivalry began in 1894 with Ole Miss getting the 6-0 win and these two teams have met a total of 65 times since. Since then, however, it has been almost all Alabama as they lead the series 50-11-2. The Rebels most recent wins against Alabama came in 2014 and 2015 in two very exciting games. 2016 did not disappoint either as the Tide held on to win 48-43 in a shootout win. Last year, on the other hand, was a different story. Bama routed Ole Miss 66-3 in Tuscaloosa.
The question for this season seems all but already answered. Bama has been beyond impressive and the Rebels have somewhat struggled in certain areas. However, this is college football and crazy things do happen, so that is why it’s imperative to know your foe.
The Ole Miss offense has been nothing short of impressive in the first two games of the 2018 season. In their week one matchup against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the Rebels scored 47 points and had 546 yards of total offense. This past Saturday against the Southern Illinois Salukis, the Rebels offense scored 76 points and had 646 yards of total offense. Here is a look at the major contributors thus far:
• Jordan Ta’amu is a 6’2”, 210-pound senior quarterback and has a 69.2 completion percentage with 784 passing yards and seven touchdowns.
• Scottie Phillips, the 5’11”, 211-pound junior running back has rushed 31 times for 311 yards and four touchdowns.
• A.J. Brown is Ta’amu’s primary wide receiver target. The 6’1”,230-pound junior has 15 receptions, 251 yards, and three touchdowns.
• Braylon Sanders is a 6’, 195 pound sophomore wide receiver and has eight receptions, 193 yards and a touchdown.
The Ole Miss defense has been mediocre so far this season. The offense has bailed them out by being able to put up big numbers in order to win both games. The Rebels defense allowed 27 points, 322 passing yards and 164 rushing yards against Texas Tech. Against Southern Illinois, Ole Miss gave up 41 points, 388 passing yards and 241 rushing yards.
After only two games, with those being against lesser opponents, the Ole Miss defense has struggled. They’ve given up a total of 1,115 yards of offense, 68 points and have only sacked the opposing quarterback once. Allowing numbers like these does not spell success against a team like Alabama who has been brilliant offensively. The final score of the game against Southern Illinois doesn’t tell the whole story either. The Salukis were ahead 38-35 at the half and was poised for the upset. However, they were only able to score three points in the second half. Here are some of the key defenders to watch for:
• Mohamed Sanogo is a 6’2”, 224 pound sophomore Linebacker and has recorded 16 total tackles.
• Josiah Coatney is a junior Defensive Tackle (6’4”, 316 pounds) with 11 total tackles.
• Vernon Dasher, a 6’1”, 205 pound junior Defensive Back, has 10 tackles and one interception which he returned 88 yards for a touchdown against Southern Illinois.
• Zedrick Woods is a 5’11”, 203 pound senior Defensive Back who has 14 tackles so far.
Interim Turned Head Coach
After the resignation of former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze last year, Matt Luke took over as the interim coach in July of 2017. He was able to take the Rebels to a 6-6 record and even got a signature win over SEC West rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. In November of last year, Ole Miss made the decision to make Luke the 37th head football coach of the program. He has been with Ole Miss off and on since 1999 as a Graduate Assistant (1999), Offensive Line/Tight End coach (2002-2005) and Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line coach (2012-2016). He has also coached at Murray State (Offensive Line coach 2000-2001), Tennessee (Offensive Line/Tight End coach 2006-2007) and at Duke (Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line coach 2008-2011).
Coach Luke has several years of experience at some successful programs and the Rebels offensive abilities could very well be a direct reflection of his extensive offensive background.
Wrap Up and Prediction
This will be the 66th meeting between Alabama and Ole Miss with the Tide winning all but 13 of the previous games. So far this season, Alabama has completely dominated their opponents by giving up only 21 points. There is no reason that the Tide will not be able to impose their will offensively. Tua Tagovailoa has been impressive leading the Alabama offense. The questions about Bama’s offense have been answered loud and clear. The questions defensively after losing so much talent in the secondary have been answered as well by shutting down opponents thus far. Ole Miss however, does have a great ability to score and will be able to do so in this game, but it won’t be enough in the end. Prediction: The Tide rolls 59-24.