Alabama vs. Ole Miss Preview
Tuscaloosa– Play time is over for both of these teams as the Alabama Crimson Tide travel to Oxford as they face the Ole Miss Rebels. While this is classic SEC West showdown, this game is extra special since this is the first time ESPN’s College Football Gameday will take place on The Grove. This game also has so much potential to one of the best matchups with weekend since both teams are ranked in the top 10 in over a decade. No matter what happens on the field, one thing can be for sure; Alabama and Ole Miss fans will have a game to remember for a long time.
The number 3 ranked Crimson Tide are coming off a bye week after clobbering down the Florida Gators. While there are many speculations on what is to be of Blake Sims and his injured shoulder, Coach Nick Saban has reassured fans and reporters that Sims will be fine for Saturday.
“”Blake has done really well in practice,” Saban said. “He hasn’t had any issues this week so far in terms of being able to throw the ball. We’re really pleased with the way he’s progressed. He’s been able to take all the reps he’s prescribed to take. We’re pleased with that.”
While the number 11 Ole Miss Rebels have just come off a close win against a very underrated Memphis Tigers, Hugh Freeze and his boys look to redeem themselves from last year and try to send Alabama packing at home. Led by Safety Cody Prewitt, the Rebels defense ranks 4th in the country with points allowed. This will be a great matchup to see since Alabama ranks 3rd in points scored this season.
In the end, who will remain undrafted and who will be sent home empty handed. Lets dive in and take a look at who will be come out on top this week.
WHAT TO KNOW
Date: October 4th, 2014
Time: 3:30 EST, 2:30 CST
Where: Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network
Vegas Line- Alabama by 6
KEYS TO VICTORY: ALABAMA
> Run the Ball
Last time Alabama played, many thought that they wouldn’t be able to pass the ball against Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III. While that didn’t happen, still Alabama this week should keep the ball rolling by running. Led by TJ Yeldon, Alabama will have to show Ole Miss something early that they have probably not be prepared for. Unfortunately it probably wont be that 87 yard touchdown pas to Kenyan Drake, but maybe running and faking the pass could work. Alabama has three strong running backs in Kenyan Drake, Yeldon and Derrick Henry, so let them do what they do best: run. Although passing will probably help the cause, if Lane Kiffin’s offense can make that Ole Miss defense sit on their toes for the game, this could be an easier win then some reporters are saying.
> Get to Dr. Bo
In Oxford, quarterback Bo Wallace is better known as Dr. Bo to the fans. However, Dr. Bo might want to schedule an appointment of his own after Alabama’s defense has a few rounds with him. Two times this season Wallace has really under-played himself including last week where he had two picks and a fumble. Now, Memphis certainly isn’t anything like Alabama’s defense so this should be an easy job for Kirby Smart. Plain and simple Alabama, get to Bo and you have done your job. While Bo will be heavily guarded by a very well put offensive line, Alabama should be able to make Wallace hurry some throws and if fans are lucky, he’ll throw them right into the arms of an Alabama football player.
KEYS TO VICTORY: OLE MISS
> Use the Crowd as an Advantage
To the few people who don’t understand what this means, basically this is the biggest game Ole Miss has had in a while. Not only are they a top ranked team, but College Gameday is in Oxford and it will be possibly the biggest upset of the year if Alabama loses this game. With this game being played at home, the Rebels fan base will be louder then ever cheering on their boys in blue. Ole Miss must use this to their advantage to help dissolve the Crimson Tide. If the Rebels can get as pumped on the field as they are in the stands, they just might get inside every players head.
> Pass in the secondary
As mentioned before, Dr. Bo has had his ups and downs this season but on Saturday, he will have to be lights out. There is a positive in all of this for Wallace though, Alabama’s secondary. That in fact might be the only thing that will throw off Alabama from a perfect record this season is that secondary. While Landon Collins is a highly talented safety, the rest of the boys can still work on getting better. If Wallace can find Laquon Treadwell like Blake Sims can find Amari Cooper, that will definitely be a point in favor for Ole Miss. If Treadwell can make Alabama’s defense look foolish…the Tide might be having some trouble on Saturday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: ALABAMA
> Trey DePreist
If any player really needs to step up to help his draft stock, look no further then Trey DePreist. Since the start of the season DePreist has played exceptionally well and has led the Alabama Defense to two games where opponents have scored under 15 points. This week is really DePreist mock audition for the NFL when taking on players like Laramy Tunsil. Trey will have to be painted on the run and recognize when it’s a pass faster then usual. Although DePreist has made a name for himself at Alabama, that doesn’t mean he can let up just towards the end of the season. Last year the Rebels struggled on run plays mostly because of CJ Mosley, now it’s Trey’s turn
> Cam Robinson
While so much has already be asked of the freshman, Coach Saban will need his tackle once again this week. While Robinson has played exceptionally well only making a few freshman errors here and there, this is not the week he can be doing that. With an already banged up Blake Sims, Robinson cannot afford to make those mistakes against a very good Rebels rush defense. Robinson will most likely see former national number 1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche alot, he will have to plant his feet firm and keep Nkemdiche out of the backfield at all cost. This really could become the start of Robinson’s already blossoming career. If he can mange to stop those Rebels in their tracks, Robinson might find himself a hero this weekend.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: OLE MISS
> Laquon Treadwell
If Amari Cooper is the best receiver in the SEC, Laquon Treadwell isn’t that far behind. This past season, the sophomore from Create, Illinois has 20 receptions for 307 yards with 3 touchdowns. Just like Cooper is to Sims, Treadwell is definitely Wallace’s favorite target and will be on Saturday. This will be a great matchup to see how Alabama’s secondary has prepared for this lightning fast kid. If he can work his way up field and make the secondary miss, he will have a big day putting points up all over the place.
There are few players who have made a big of an impact their freshman season as Robert Nkemdiche has. Now with a year under his belt, he will have to use that to his advantage when playing against a very solid Alabama offensive line. While they might be sold, Nkemdiche has work his way out of jams before. This will be a very interesting matchup to see him and Cam Robinson in. If Robert can make Robinson make rookie mistakes, he can definitely find his way into the backfield to get some big tackles. If not, then it might be hard to keep Alabama’s offense off the field.
THE X-FACTOR: ALABAMA
> The Entire Alabama receiving corp
Although this spot is usually meant for just one player, this time there’s an exception. While Amari Cooper has been the star of the whole college football world, Coach Saban still wants other players to get the ball. With the entire receiving corp being healthy, this is a huge week to see everyone really step up and shine. If Alabama can get the game set on cruise control, future star players like Raheem Falkins and Robert Foster. But also, Sims will have to look at more then just Cooper to hang with those Ole Miss secondary players. Expect alot to come from receivers DeAndrew White and Chris Black as they too try put up number like their friend Cooper.
The X-Factor: Ole Miss
> Cody Prewitt
If you want to talk bad about Alabama, be prepared to make the list as the X-Factor player. Make no mistake, Prewitt a great season up to this point and has been the leader this team has needed for years. Unfortunately, Prewitt manage to find himself in a bit a pickle when asked what he thought about Alabama as a team.
“We understand that we haven’t played a team that’s going to be as good as Bama,” Prewitt said. “But we don’t really think Bama is as good as they have been. And we’re better than we have been. We’re looking forward to getting to the game plan and really nailing down all the tweaks and stuff that we’re going to have to put into Bama.”
When you want to talk smack, you better be ready to back it up. Prewitt better be ready to play all game. He will need to work from the strong safety position and find his way down to make some big hits on Yeldon and Henry. He will also have to be able to hold Amari Cooper out of the end zone as much as possible. For Ole Miss fans, hopefully your captain is ready to either be a champion or eat his words.
It has been over a decade since Ole Miss pulled out a win against an Alabama team and Saturday should be no different. Take nothing away from Ole Miss, the past two years they have gearing for a huge turn around under Hugh Freeze. Still, Alabama just has something this season that Ole Miss is missing; a complete team. Dr. Bo just isn’t an elite quarterback and the defensive backs can’t hold up against receivers like Cooper and White. Expect this is not be as close as fans may think, and if it is then Alabama really didn’t play up to par. This should be another big game for the Sims-Cooper show as Alabama will roll all over the Reb’s this Saturday.
Prediction- Alabama 38, Ole Miss 17
Cole Thompson is the Alabama Beat Reporter for WVUA-FM. Follow Him on Twitter at @ColeThompson32