3 Things The Ole Miss Rebels Must Do If They Want To Beat Alabama
Week Six of the college football season is upon us and it is by far the best week of matchups up to this point in the season. The first five weeks of college football has seen a lot of so called “cupcake” games, but that all changes in week six and in a big way.
The biggest matchup of week six resides in the SEC West. The 2014 SEC West has been the dominant representative in the polls to this point, but now as they get into SEC play they will begin knocking each other off.
That matchup this week will take place in Oxford, Mississippi when the number 11 Ole Miss Rebels welcome the number three Alabama Crimson Tide to town. This has been said by many to be the biggest game in Ole Miss Rebels’ history. That is very hard to argue with based on the amazing run the Crimson Tide have been on the past five years and how big of a win this would be for Ole Miss.
Ole Miss was the pick by many in the offseason to be the surprise team in 2014 and so far they have lived up to that hype. The true challenge comes on Saturday when they play host to Alabama in the biggest game of the season to date in the SEC.
As we take a deeper look into this matchup, let’s take a look at what Ole Miss needs to do to pull off this upset and gain themselves a program defining win. I have assembled three things that I feel Ole Miss must do to come out victorious on Saturday.
1. The number one thing I feel Ole Miss must do to win this game is hold Alabama around the 150 yards of total rushing mark. Alabama has yet to show their potential at the running back position, but I feel that changes this game.
The first four games of the season were basically a cake walk for the Crimson Tide because of a soft schedule. They used those four games to get quarterback Blake Sims used to the offense and gave him some easy opportunities. That will not be the case in this game because of the road environment in Oxford, Mississippi.
The running back tandem of Alabama consists of T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake. All three of these guys would be starting on 95% of the FBS teams in college football. They will get a heavy workload in this game to take pressure off of Sims on the road.
So, I feel if Ole Miss has any chance they must contain the Alabama running game to around 150 yards. If the Rebels can do this they have a great shot of pulling off this enormous victory.
2. The second thing that Ole Miss must do is throw the ball vertically down the field. The weakness of Alabama under Nick Saban has been their inability to defend the down field passing game. We saw Texas A&M and Oklahoma hurt them with this last year and then again this year in their season opener against West Virginia.
The Rebels have a quarterback in Bo Wallace that has experience and should be able to take advantage of the Alabama secondary. His big play threat down field is wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. If these two are able to get a rhythm in this game, then it could be a long afternoon for Alabama.
Ole Miss cannot rely on short screen passes and wide receiver screens to beat Alabama. The strength of Alabama is stopping plays close to the line of scrimmage and so many teams make that mistake of having that game plan against Alabama.
The Rebels must take shots deep down field, even if that means making a couple of mistakes throughout the course of the game. Wallace has a nice core of receivers and the Rebels have to utilize that if they have any chance of beating Alabama.
3. The last thing and possibly the most important thing Ole Miss must do to pull off this win against Alabama is not let the moment be too big for them. Alabama has not been an underdog in any game since the 2009 SEC Championship game.
Alabama went on to win that game 32-13, so Alabama is used to being the favorites and playing in big time games like this. The atmosphere will not be too big for them, but in a strange way the home field could put more pressure on the Rebels.
Don’t get me wrong, the Ole Miss Rebels would much rather play this game in front of their home crowd rather than in Alabama. The issue could end up being if Ole Miss is winning deep into the fourth quarter the pressure of having to close out a big game in front of their fans could become an issue.
So, these are the three things I see Ole Miss having to accomplish if they hope to beat Alabama in what could be the biggest game in Ole Miss Football history. The opportunity that Ole Miss has been asking for is finally here, now it’s just up to them to take advantage and beat the top dog.
It will be a challenge to say the least for the Rebels, but if they ever hope to beat a top team like Alabama this has to be the time they get it done. The Rebels’ players, fans, coaches and alumni will all be ready for this game and we can only hope the game lives up to the hype that these two teams have generated off the field.