The No.15 Ole Miss Rebels take on the No.2 Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC’s most important match up this season. After least season’s 23-17 victory over the Crimson Tide, the Rebels are looking to go into Tuscaloosa, and knock out Alabama’s entire program. Both teams come into the game with (2-0) records, and hope to claim king of the SEC West in Saturday’s best game. Is Alabama’s defense up for the challenge?
The Ole Miss Rebels’ offense has been disrespectful to inferior opponents the first two weeks of the season. Led by Chad Kelly at quarterback, the Rebels are averaging over 74 points per game, and present a nightmarish predicament for the Crimson Tide defense. Kelly is completing 72 percent of his passes, with an incredible 13.9 yards per attempt. He also has a 6-1 touchdown to interception ratio coming into the biggest game of his career. However, it will be interesting to see his confidence at the beginning of a major road game.
Kelly has added a pair of rushing touchdowns to help facilitate Ole Miss’ running game, but they will be in a different league on Saturday. Akeem Judd leads the Rebels with 15 carries, while Walton has gained 103 yards on nine carries this season. Are the Rebels ready to have a workhorse back come into Bryant-Denny stadium, and take over if needed?
This is the Alabama defense that completely shutdown Wisconsin’s running game in the season opener. The Crimson Tide only give up 63 yards on the ground, so they will test the Rebels up front consistently. Alabama only gives up nine points per game, so they are used to dominating teams up front. However, if Ole Miss gets on the edge, it could be a different story for Alabama’s defense. How well will the Crimson Tide tackle in space? In addition, will Alabama’s secondary be too concerned with the passing game to concentrate on the ground attack?
The Rebels are averaging 358 yards passing this season. Nobody expects them to put up these types of numbers, but anything close should cause concern. Laquon Treadwell is back from his leg injury, and leads the team with nine catches. He’s yet to score a touchdown, but his impact has been felt early on. Quincy Adeboyejo leads the team with four touchdown receptions. His speed could ruin Alabama’s chances at a perfect season in 2015.
One way to slow down Ole Miss’ offense is the use of running back Derrick Henry. Although, using Henry for ball control could be a fruitless endeavor. In 31 carries, Henry has scored six touchdowns on a 7.8 yard average. He might get 31 carries in this game, if Alabama has their way offensively. Still, his ability to break into the open field is one of the scariest sights for opposing defenses.
Despite dominating their first two opponents, Ole Miss is adequate in stopping the run. They give up 139 yards per game so far. Coming into the game, they’ll look to take away Alabama’s ground game, and force one of the quarterbacks to make plays.
Jacob Coker and Cooper Bateman have split time, combining for three touchdowns and two interceptions. It’s finally time for Nick Saban to select his signal caller. Neither player has taken the reigns, and one of the Crimson Tide quarterbacks need to produce. Otherwise, Saban, and Lane Kiffin will continue to search for the best option for the rest of the season.
In addition to Henry in the running game, Alabama can find offense from a couple of players. Kenyan Drake might be the biggest threat with the ball in his hands. As a runner and receiver, Drake is a match up problem for most players in the country. They also have Robert Foster leading the Crimson Tide with two touchdown receptions. However, the Crimson Tide have come in with a mindset to run the football. Will it be enough to save their season?
Kickoff is set for 9:15 p.m. ET on ESPN. Alabama is a seven point favorite according to CBS Sports.