Above: Not a picture from tonight’s game.
Nick Saban is now 21-0 against his former assistants, but this one didn’t come easy as Lane Kiffin and the Rebels gave the Crimson Tide all they could handle for most of tonight’s game in Oxford.
A damp field and the lingering effects of Hurricane Delta clearly didn’t slow down these two offenses in Alabama’s 63-48 victory over the Rebels. The two units combined for 1,370 yards, and it was the highest-scoring game in the series’ history. The offensive output also represents the most yards put up in an SEC matchup in conference history.
Much like the last time Alabama took a trip to Oxford, the Rebels got on the board quickly as Ole Miss QB Matt Corral found TE Kenny Yeboah in the end zone on their first drive. Unlike that matchup from 2018, which ended in a 62-7 blowout, Ole Miss proved they belonged…on offense at least.
In what became the theme of the night, Alabama answered the Rebels’ score with a methodical 10-play drive that ended with a Mac Jones touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith.
The bright spot for the Ole Miss defense was a strip of Alabama RB Najee Harris at the goal line later in the first quarter, which led to the Rebels marching on a 10-play drive of their own capped by a short touchdown plunge by RB Jerrion Ealy to give the Rebels a 14-7 lead. The Tide would punt on their ensuing possession, but they would then go on to score on every possession the rest of the way.
Whether it was through the air or on the ground, the Tide were able to move the ball at will and gash an undermanned Rebel defense. QB Mac Jones, on a quest to prove he’s no game manager, was highly efficient completing 28 of his 32 pass attempts for 417 yards and 2 TDs. Flanked by Harris, arguably the best RB in the SEC, handing the ball off proved to be equally as effective as the senior back took 23 carries for 206 yards and 5 TDs — tying an Alabama record. RB Brian Robinson Jr. added a rushing touchdown of his own and Smith’s 14-yard TD run was a back-breaker late in the 4th quarter after the Rebels’ cut the lead to 49-45 with a Luke Logan field goal.
The FG broke the run of seven straight touchdowns between the two teams to open the second half with Matt Corral and the Rebel offense continuing to show out against the Tide’s defense. Corral’s playmaking ability was on full display as he matched his counterpart with 21 completions on 28 attempts for 365 yards and 2 TDs. The Rebel running game added 268 yards with both Snoop Conner and Ealy going over 120 yards with a pair of scores each.
With an ineffective defense, Kiffin went into his bag of tricks with the score knotted at 42-42, attempting an onside kick which ended up in the hands of the Tide and resulted in a Harris touchdown four plays later. Kiffin was less aggressive before halftime with the game tied at 21-21 as the Rebels got the ball back with three timeouts and a minute left to play. Kiffin opted to run the clock out and get into the locker room.
After a week full of questions regarding Kiffin’s relationship with his former boss, who he likes to mess with from afar on Twitter or through jabs in interviews, it’s clear that his Rebels could become a thorn in Saban’s side on the field as well if the defense can catch up to an offense that’s hitting its stride.