Ole Miss vs. Alabama 9:15 ESPN
Notes: Alabama is 4-1 over Ole Miss over the last five game with an average margin of victory of 25.5 points per game. Ole Miss won last year’s battle 23-17 in Oxford after trailing 14-3 at the half. Last Alabama SEC home loss came in 2012 against Texas A&M (lost 29-24)- Alabama is on a nine game home winning streak against SEC opponents. The last time Alabama lost two games in consecutive years against the same team was in 2010 and 2011 to the LSU Tigers (2010 lost 24-21, 2011 lost 9-6).
The Rebels have been very explosive offensively in the team’s first two games of 2015. Ole Miss scored over 70 points in both of those victories (76,73) and is averaging 74.5 points per game. Quarterback Chad Kelly (Jim Kelly’s nephew-Clemson transfer) is having a solid season and is the key to this game for the Rebels. Kelly has completed 72.5% of his passes for 557 yards with 6 touchdowns and one interception. Fourteen different receivers have caught passes for Ole Miss this season with wide receiver Laquon Treadwell leading the team with 9 receptions on the year. Wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo leads the team with 4 touchdowns and wide receiver Cody Core is second on the team with 2 touchdown receptions. Ole Miss has been very balanced at the onset of the season. The Rebels are averaging 276 rushing yards per game with 9 touchdowns and passing for 358 yards per game with 9 touchdowns. Running back Jaylon Walton leads the team with 103 rushing yards (11.4 yards per carry) and 2 touchdowns. Ole Miss has been very good on the offensive line and has allowed one sack through two games. In order for Ole Miss to win this game, they must put pressure on the Crimson Tide’s secondary and create mismatches. In last year’s victory, TE Evan Engram was utilized down the middle of the field on former Alabama safety Landon Collins. Engram had 3 receptions for 71 yards which put the Rebels in a position to score each time. This season, Engram has 1 reception for 5 yards.
Defensively, Ole Miss has allowed 12 points per game and has been playing very disciplined football. On the year, the Rebels have allowed 163 rushing yards per game and 139 yards through the air. The team is +1 in turnover margin and will need to create turnovers on the road in Tuscaloosa to get the victory Saturday night. Because of the success of the offense, head coach Hugh Freeze has been able to get younger players game experience which will help this team immensely as the season progresses. Freshman defensive tackle Breeland Speaks leads the team with 11 tackles on the season. Two factors which may come into play in tight games are the kicking game and penalties. Punter Will Gleeson has been very good averaging 42 yards per punt and Ole Miss is averaging 4 penalties per game.
The Crimson Tide have been very balanced in the team’s victories over Wisconsin and Middle Tennessee State. Alabama is averaging 36 points per game (35, 37) and has looked very good on the offensive line early on in the year. Alabama has rushed for 229 yards per game and passed for 288 yards per game through the team’s first two victories and will need to be consistent on Saturday night against a physical defensive front in Ole Miss. Quarterbacks Jacob Coaker and Cooper Bateman have looked very good in splitting action this season. Coaker has completed 63.8% of his passes for 427 yards with 2 touchdowns and one interception. Bateman has completed 72% of his passes for 149 yards with one touchdown and one interception. However, this season the offense relies on running back Derek Henry. Henry is a punishing running back that has great success between the tackles. On the year, Henry has rushed for 243 yards averaging 7.8 yards per carry with 6 touchdowns. In order to take the pressure off of Coaker on Saturday night, Henry will need to have a big night in the running game. Running back Kenyon Drake is a dual threat back that has been utilized by offensive coordinator Lane Kiffen in the passing game. Drake leads the team with 139 receiving yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, the Crimson Tide has been very opportunistic and is +3 in turnover margin. Alabama is very solid in run support giving up a mere 63 yards per game and will need that effort on Saturday to propel the Tide to the victory. The Crimson Tide has allowed 208 passing yards per game and will be tested by Chad Kelly and the offense of Ole Miss. Alabama has 3 sacks on the year and must create pressure on Kelly to force quick throws. If Alabama can force Ole Miss into third down and long situations, that can put pressure on Ole Miss and make them one dimensional. Alabama has been averaging 8 penalties per game for 80 yards per game and must be do a better job in this facet. Punter JK Scott has been averaging 38.6 yards per punt which can be a factor in creating field position.
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Joseph Lisi a former ABC Sports college football researcher, is the owner of www.GOFORTHE2.COM. He is a member if the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America), Maxwell Football Club and is currently the content editor at www.2FiveSports.com. He contributes regularly to www.Sid-Rosenberg.com and has been a featured guest every Tuesday night from 10:30-11:30pm EST on Yahoo Sports Radio With Ken Thomson (www.sportsxradio.com).
Joe has been featured on the FNTSY Sports Network and The Sid Rosenberg Sports Radio Show 640AM Sports (South Florida). You can follow him on Twitter: @Goforthe2.
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