Every week is a huge week for all of the teams in the nation. Upsets are happening each week that will cause some major implications for the College Football Playoffs. Ole Miss Rebels (1-1) first-year head coach Lane Kiffin is looking to spark an upset against his former mentor and team in Nick Saban and the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (2-2). This game will be the second game in a row for coach Saban facing one of his former assistants in coach Kiffin. There are plenty of storylines in this game despite the fact the Tide are a 23-point favor over the Rebels.
Saban versus Kiffin – Part One
This game will be the first matchup between coach Saban and coach Kiffin as head coaches of separate programs. For three seasons (2014-2016), Kiffin was the offensive coordinator of the Tide’s high-power offense. Kiffin was instrumental in creating a highly dynamic quarterback in Blake Sims and the first two efficient years of Jalen Hurts. In his second season as offensive coordinator, Kiffin helped running back Derrick Henry win the Heisman Trophy in 2015. After he departed from the team in January 2017, Kiffin has thrown serious shade at the Tide and coach Saban. Kiffin has been clear that he is looking forward to being the first former assistant to beat coach Saban head-to-head. Saban is 20-0 all-time when facing his former assistants from either Michigan State, LSU, or Alabama.
A matchup of two highly explosive offenses
The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ole Miss Rebels are coming into this game with two of the most explosive offenses in the SEC. Alabama’s offense averages 45 points per game (first in SEC) and 479 total yards per game (third in SEC). They are led by a group of dynamic and explosive wide receivers and darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Mac Jones. In two games this season, Jones has thrown for 684 yards, six touchdowns, and only one interception on 38 completions (out of 51 passing attempts). Jones has progressed as a productive quarterback by reading defenses coverage better and adding more explosiveness in his throws. Junior slot receiver Jaylen Waddle had a huge first game against the Missouri Tigers. In the next game, it was new starting sophomore wide receiver John Metchie that stepped up against Texas A&M. The offense hasn’t missed a beat with Jones as the new starting quarterback.
Ole Miss’ offense averages 38.5 points per game (third in SEC) and 536 total yards per game (first in SEC). They have a great mix of passing plays in the passing and running game as well as creating misdirections. This Rebels team has some serious spark with sophomore dynamic quarterback Matt Corral and their explosive wide receiver in Elijah Moore. Coral has thrown for 715 yards, seven touchdowns, and only one interception on 46 completions (out of 61 passing attempts). So far this season, Moore has been one of the most productive wide receivers in the SEC. Moore has caught 20 receptions for 319 yards and a touchdown. They also have a reliable tight end in senior Kenny Yeboah, who has caught eight receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
Big potential game for Tide’s DeVonta Smith
Both offenses have looked impressive in two games so far this season. The Tide have gotten solid production from all of their receivers, but they have one player yet to explode. In two games for Alabama, Smith has caught 14 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown. Last season against the Ole Miss Rebels, Smith had a career day for the Crimson Tide. Smith caught 11 receptions for 274 yards and five touchdowns from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Smith is due for another huge game as the Rebels defense is ranked 12th in the SEC in passing yards allowed per game (298.5). The Rebels defense has done an inefficient job at defending against an offense’s best weapon, outside the quarterback. Expect a big game from Smith and another key receiver for Alabama, whether that is Waddle or Metchie.
Alabama’s secondary must be alert
On the other side of the passing game, Alabama’s secondary must be ready for an eager Ole Miss Rebels offense. Corral is a much more efficient passer than their other quarterback in John Rhys Plumlee that Alabama faced last year. Bo Wallace (2014) and Chad Kelly (2015) had huge games for Ole Miss in their victories over the Tide. In both games, the Rebels outgained the Crimson Tide in the passing game. The key for the Crimson Tide on Saturday is to make sure their secondary is up for the task. It will be an exciting matchup between Tide’s best cornerback Patrick Surtain II and Elijah Moore. Surtain has played like a top corner in the nation and a top-10 NLF Draft pick for a second-consecutive year. Their other cornerback in Josh Jobe has been highly impressive and consistent.
Even their new starting star player in true freshman Malachi Moore has done well in covering up certain progressing plays. It will be up to their safety Daniel Wright to keep the Tide from getting into a close game. Wright has not played exceptionally great in key coverage schemes as one of the new safeties for Alabama. There are points of progression he is making but still has not played up to expectations so far this season. Last week against the Aggies, Wright did pick off Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond for a 47-yard touchdown. This will be an area that the Rebels will target with their passing game and even in their run play.