No.15 Ole Miss has been as impressive as any team in the 2015 college football season, and they’ll face their toughest test of the season on Saturday night. The Rebels visit No.2 Alabama, looking to supplant the Crimson Tide as the SEC’s top team.
Hugh Freeze’s squad hasn’t faced much competition in their first two games, but their dominance can’t be ignored. After opening the season with a 76-3 win over Tennessee-Martin, the Rebels topped Fresno State, 73-21. Alabama beat then-No.20 Wisconsin by 18 points to start the year, and they defeated Middle Tennessee, 37-10.
The Crimson Tide are heavy favorites at home, where they haven’t lost to Ole Miss since 1988. The betting line is seven points at Las Vegas casinos, according to vegasinsider.com, and the over/under is 52.5 points.
Ole Miss’ Historic Start
The Rebels were ranked No.18 in the preseason largely because of their defensive prowess, but it’s their offense that has been most impressive. The team is putting up numbers that have never been seen before, scoring 149 points through their first two games, setting a new FBS record.
Chad Kelly has exceeded all expectations as Bo Wallace’s replacement, completing 72.5 percent of his passes for 557 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. His 13.9 yards per attempt leads all quarterbacks, and Ole Miss has gained at least 20 yards on 25 percent of his attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Ole Miss’ running game has been just as good. Jaylen Walton and Eugene Brazley have both rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns. The Rebels lead the SEC and rank third in the nation with 7.8 yards per carry.
Walton and Brazley could struggle against one of college football’s best defenses. Alabama ranked third in 2014 by allowing just 2.8 yards per carry. In two games this year, the Crimson Tide rank 67th against the pass.
Ole Miss had one of their biggest wins in school history last year when they defeated then-No.3 Alabama. This year, they’ll try to beat an even higher ranked Alabama team, but history is not on their side.
The Rebels have never beaten a team ranked No.1 or No.2 in the AP Top 25 Poll. If they win on Saturday, they’ll become the first team in 41 years to beat a top-three Alabama team in two consecutive seasons. Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide are 9-1 against teams that beat them in the previous season. Only LSU topped Alabama in consecutive years, but Saban’s squad still managed to defeat them in that season’s national title game.
Last season’s contest was played in Mississippi, and the Rebels will have a much tougher time winning on the road. The Rebels have won just one of their 37 meetings against the Crimson Tide in Alabama. In their last visit to Tuscaloosa, Ole Miss was shut out, losing 25-0 after winning their first three games of the season.
It’s a late start in Alabama with ESPN set to broadcast kickoff at 9:15 p.m. ET. The game is available with a live stream online at WatchESPN.
Ole Miss would have put up a lot of points in their first two games no matter whom they played. Alabama’s defense can be vulnerable against the pass, and Kelly should be able to throw a few touchdown passes. The Rebels’ offense has overshadowed its defense, which will keep Jake Coker and Cooper Bateman in check. Even though Ole Miss has barely had any success in Tuscaloosa, this is a different Rebels team, and they have a chance to make history in what should be a close game.
Ole Miss over Alabama, 24-23