Yes, the series record leans heavily Alabama’s way, but there’s so much more to know than just numbers in this rivaly.
Alabama – Ole Miss Rivalry in Perspective
By Larry Burton
In the last 29 contests between these two teams, Ole Miss has won but three. In the entire lifetimes of each of the players that will play the game Saturday, Ole Miss has won just two games and both of them were won by Eli Manning, one in 2001 and one in 2003. That means a senior playing in the game hasn’t seen Ole Miss beat Alabama since he was about 11 years old and the freshmen were about seven years old.
The total game count is 51-8-2 for all the games won on the field. But Ole Miss hasn’t won a game against Alabama since that 2003 game when David Cutliffe coached and Eli Manning played for Ole Miss. Two out of three wins over vaunted Alabama had the Ole Miss fan base in high heaven and since that last 2003 victory, there’s just one disappointment after another for the Rebels.
Even during Alabama’s disastrous probation years before Saban, Alabama always found a win, even in close games, like the 13-10 game in 2005, the 26-23 overtime win in 2006 and the 27-24 win in Coach Shula’s last year.
After Saban arrived, he squeaked out a narrow 24-20 win in 2008, but since then has rolled the Rebels by an average score of 31 to 6.8 including last year’s 25-0 shutout.
But one thing that Saban has always said after the Ole Miss game, no matter the score, was how physical they played and what a tough game it was for the Tide. And that’s not just coach speak, that’s reality. The truth is, that many of the games against Ole Miss were hard fought, tough games that don’t necessarily reflect the overall record.
Under head coach Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss is a disciplined, well coached team that has recruited well and has a sprinkling of players that would start even on the Crimson Tide’s own team. They are physical as Saban says, but they’re also opportunistic and never give up.
While Florida proved that Alabama has the necessary talent to defeat SEC teams, in all honesty, Florida is an SEC East team and not quite up to the talent of Ole Miss, so in all reality, for both teams in this Saturday’s contest, this will be the first real test of just just what each team truly has.
Ole Miss comes into the game on a really good roll after toppling Boise State 35-13, Vanderbilt 41-3, Louisiana Lafayette 56-15 and very tough Memphis team 24-3. The Ole Miss fans have every reason to be hopeful and the Rebel players know that for at least one half, Florida gave Alabama a fit and that a team with their talent level could do more.
Alabama fans for the most part think that while it could be another tough game, the outcome will surely go Alabama’s way, but what those same fans may not realize is that Ole Miss may very well be of the top teams in the SEC this season. Make no mistake about it, this is going to be a hard fought game and could be the toughest of the year for Alabama.
Las Vegas certainly sees it that way as Alabama is favored by less than a touchdown.
Also, as mentioned, the series record is 51-8-2, that means they win one game about every nine contests and it’s been 10 contests since they won their last one over the Tide. They feel that they’re due, they feel they have all the pieces of the puzzle in place this season to make a run at the SEC title and that this is the year of the Rebel.
It will be a duel of two highly developed offenses and in the end, it may come down to which defense can manage to at least slow the other one down enough to keep their team ahead.
To put this game into perspective, you have to see it for what it has been so many times before, a hard fought game of two very physical teams that can score quickly, create turnover and be very opportunistic. This truly is the must see game of the week.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter