#1 ALABAMA(2-0, 0-0, SEC) @ OLE MISS (2-0, 0-0 SEC)
Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo
PHOTO COURTESY OF: OLE MISS FOOTBALL
OXFORD,MISS– “Just behind the reef are the big white teeth of the sharks that can swim on the land.You got fins to the left, fins to the right,and you’re the only bait in town.” – Jimmy Buffett
No there won’t be any wasting away in Margaritaville for either one of these ball clubs except maybe for their fan bases indulging in the Grove this evening. What team is going to have enough “animo” to make it safely to shore in this storm?
Kick-Off: 6:00 PM CT
Venue: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford,Miss.
Line: BAMA -21
Don’t think for a minute that Nicky Saban and this ball club are sitting cozy and comfortable heading into week 3 with two dominating wins and still holding on to the #1 spot in college football. As Saban said in his Monday presser “The real season is really starting now.” The Tide has rolled into Oxford to open conference play against the Rebs tonight. I think everyone can agree that there is definitely no love loss between either one of these teams and there will be blood to shed.
While Alabama already looks like a fine oiled machine make no mistakes they still have a few key kinks to tighten up on both sides of the balls. Even with dominating performances the Crimson knows to make another run at the Championship there is no margin for error this run. The talent,ability, and depth is there but sometimes it is easy to overlook and remember basic fundamentals in football. While Ole Miss may not appear to be able to go down for down with the Tide on paper this will still be a big test and obstacle to see just where Saban really stands. While focus will be placed on evaluating just how productive QB Tua Tagovailoa can be on his own it seems ( looks like Jalen Hurts will be opting for a red shirt but quite honestly don’t be surprised if he makes one more appearance throughout this game) . The central focus remains on a stout but still inexperienced Alabama Defense and where it stands against a more challenging opposition.
Nonetheless this evening’s match-up will paint a better picture of just where either of these ball clubs stand in the grander scheme of college football. I can tell you this no matter how comfortable a lead the Bama Boys get they better keep playing like they were down and out!
It may be a new dawn and new day in Oxford now that Coach Luke made the transition as the official head honcho for the Rebels putting the past to rest once and for all. However, you can be sure that somewhere behind those locker room doors there are little reminders of how Nicky Saban and the Tide man handled them 66-3 in Tuscaloosa last year. If that replay reel wasn’t enough to make your teams’ blood boil and endure another repeat ass whooping courtesy of the Crimson then I don’t know what will
Finally the Rebels have a chance to regain,revive and reshape their identity with a fresh start and some stability. The question remains was the off season up to now enough for them to be effectual for an entire game against an opponent like Alabama? Offensively the Rebels are quiet explosive from their signal caller to their receiving cores averaging 61 points a game so far. But even with their offense having a high level production day and playing near flawless it’s going to come down to both ball clubs defenses as to the outcome of this match-up.
Talk about a friend or a foe the role defense will play in this game tonight.Even with a face lift of the Ole Miss Defense there are still far too many problems that are easily exposed early on that could cost them big. Quite frankly when your defense has allowed at least 34 points in your first two matchups against teams like Texas Tech & Southern Illinois even if your 2-0. That sort of showing isn’t going to suffice to handle the” Locksley Lockdown” that is going to show up on offense from the Tides end.
Kick-Off Keys To The Game
Keys For The Tide
While the dueling QB duo of Tagovailoa & Hurts have put up quite an explosive display for the Tide Offense already they have been left with more vulnerable than they would like. This could be perhaps one of Nicky Saban’s best O-lines by far. However, they still have not demonstrated a full fledge pouring that is iron clad when it comes to protection. Yes they have only allowed two sacks but they have been able to be saved a few times to many because of Tagovailoa & Hurts ability to think quickly under pressure and out of pocket. What good is having talent if you don’t know how to put into action in a game setting?
Alabama’s defense is one hell of a wrecking crew if there ever was one in the present that could live up to it in the flesh. Even in that there is always going to be a soft spot for the best of teams. For Bama that is their fresh secondary. While they have showed promising results in their first two match ups they still need to tighten up their belt even more. Where they could get into some trouble is having to play a more experienced Ole Miss Offense that would love nothing more than to interrupt their groove. The upside even in its inexperience they have a great ability to adapt and adjust after they get knocked down.
Keys For The Rebs
The Rebels need to put their best foot forward from the jump tonight at the Vaught. Which means their offense is going to have to fluid and near to flawless. With an offensive cast made up of QB Jordan Ta’amu, a receiving core loaded with playmakers like DaMarkus Lodge, A,J Brown & D.K Metcalf and of course RB sensation Scottie Phillips the Rebs have a solid chance of turning the tables on the Tides defense. The key will be that they can’t let up at anypoint or cause to much of point deficit if they want to stay above ground. In short they are going to have to have to be productive putting points on the board not anyway they can till the clock runs out in the ball game. Tonight we will see whos running game will translate into a higher yield because that may be the deciding factor in a win or a loss.
Stand Your Ground
The Rebels defense is going to have their work cut out for them this evening. I hope McGriff has something up his sleeve this week because the Rebs are going to need to create as many turnovers and stops until their blue in the face to keep from getting run over all night long. If they want to have the endurance to make it to four they need to keep Bama’s Offense off the field as much as earthly possible.
I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you how this is going to go but what I do know is under the lights this evening here in Oxford this game is more than just looking good on a stat sheet or the rankings. These are the sort of match-ups I love to witness because for four quarters of football you get to see the game return to its roots of grit and grind. Roll Tide & Hotty Toddy Y’all!
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Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a Senior Editor and writer for Main Event Sports. She is a veteran SEC sports journalist, NFL Network content writer, and Brown University graduate. She loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @ Misskyus2011