Just how will the Alabama Crimson Tide rebound from their tough loss in South Carolina last weekend, a loss that cost ‘Bama the top ranking in the nation?
That is a question that will be answered Saturday evening in Tuscaloosa, as the 8th ranked Crimson Tide host oldtime rival Ole Miss on Homecoming.
Alabama (5-1) hosts the Ole Miss Rebels (3-2) this Saturday at 6:10 p.m. (Central Time, ESPN 2), a game that starts another tough stretch for last season’s national champion.
After playing three Top 20 teams in a row, ‘Bama now begins a slate of games where it must remain perfect the remainder of the way if it has any hopes of reaching the national championship game in Glendale, Ariz. in early January. One more loss and the Tide could be looking at the Sugar Bowl or a bowl further down the list.
Meantime, all eyes will be on head coach Nick Saban and how he gets his team to forget about last week’s loss in South Carolina (35-21), a loss where ‘Bama looked like had read too many press clippings about how good it was coming off of a big win a week earlier over Florida.
In facing longtime rival Ole Miss, ‘Bama meets a team that features two weapons on offense – Jeremiah Masoli and Brandon Bolden.
Masoli scored four total touchdowns in his last game against Kentucky, while Bolden has rushed for 518 yards and five TD’s this season.
While having suffered home losses to Jacksonville State and Vandy, Ole Miss shouldn’t and cannot be overlooked by an Alabama squad that was dominated for much of the game last week in Columbia, S.C.
Star running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson were held to a combined 64 yards on the ground, while senior QB Greg McElroy was sacked eight times. Throw in the factor that wide receiver Julio Jones broke his hand in the game (status questionable for Ole Miss game), and you have a ‘Bama squad needing to make adjustments offensively.
Alabama’s young defense was also exposed numerous times last weekend, giving up big pass and running plays at key times when the game was there for the taking.
Finally, kicker Jeremy Shelley missed a field goal and extra point in last weekend’s game, meaning the young kicker will need to bring his ‘A’ game the rest of the season, especially in games that could go down to the wire.
For Alabama, the “one game at a time” approach in trying to get back in the national title hunt starts with Ole Miss Saturday evening in front of some 101,000 fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The game will be the 58th meeting between Ole Miss and Alabama, with the Crimson Tide holding a 46-9-2 lead in the all-time series, having won six in a row. The Rebels have only one win in 24 contests against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
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Written by Dave Thomas