Do you remember what your first thought was when you found out that Ole Miss hired Lane Kiffin to coach the Rebels? The first thing to pop into my head last December when Kiffin left FAU for Ole Miss was that we are getting an annual Kiffin vs. Nick Saban matchup in the SEC West. The first of what we hope will be many meetings between the student and the teacher will take place Saturday as the Rebels welcome No. 2 Alabama into Oxford, Mississippi.
It’s the same old, same old for the Crimson Tide, who throttled Texas A&M last weekend in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Quarterback Mac Jones looked like a difference-maker against the Aggies for the full 60 minutes in a sizzling 435-yard, four-touchdown performance.
The Rebels won a nail-biter over Kentucky in overtime where Wildcats kicker Matt Ruffolo missed an extra point in the top half of overtime. Running back Jerrion Ealy and quarterback Matt Corral have proven through two games that they have taken to Kiffin’s offense and will be dangerous every time out.
What will happen on Saturday night in Oxford? Let’s break it down and make picks straight up and against the spread. Paid content by Mansion Global Modern Home Transformations: From Frigid To Welcoming
Alabama: Kiffin joked during his Monday press conference that some Alabama receiver he had never heard of made his presence felt last week. That receiver was John Metchie III. The sophomore had five catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns, and has joined Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith as a bona fide stud outside. That’s terrifying. The Crimson Tide have already done a fantastic job of protecting Jones and getting their running backs involved in a variety of ways.
Freshman defensive end Will Anderson Jr., sophomore linebacker Christian Harris and sophomore Jordan Battle have joined a youth movement on a Tide defense that is led by veteran linebacker Dylan Moses, who could be considered one of the best players in college football. Simply put, Alabama is one of two complete teams in the country right now, with the other being Clemson, of course.
Ole Miss: Ealy and Corral have drawn the headlines of a loaded offense that, when it’s on, could be one of the most dangerous offenses in the country. Corral has emerged as more than a willing runner after putting up 50 and 51 yards, consecutively, in the first two games. Elijah Moore has 319 receiving yards in two games, and is one of three Rebels receivers with over 100 yards through two games.
The defense, however, has had its issues. The Rebels are last in the nation in yards per play (8.11) and total defense (600.5), and 69th in opponent’s third down conversion percentage (57.14%). That doesn’t bode well in any game, much less vs. Alabama.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 10 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium — Oxford, Mississippi
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Game prediction, picks
It seems like the consensus around the country is that Saban will try to run it up on his former offensive coordinator because, let’s be honest, their relationship didn’t end on a high note. I don’t see that happening, though. In fact, I see the opposite. Don’t get me wrong … this is a dial-a-score game for the Crimson Tide. But there are three reasons why Ole Miss will cover: the coach, the players and the weather. Saban knows that Kiffin is a brilliant offensive mind and that he has explosive players to work with. He also knows that Hurricane Delta will present some major problems and make this a sloppy game. Translation: He’s going to want to get out of there as quickly and safely as possible. Pick: Ole Miss (+23)