Ole Miss challenged Alabama on Saturday night. They talked a little trash to the media in the days leading up to the showdown in Tuscaloosa, and head coach Hugh Freeze certainly didn't hold anything back when a couple of opportunities presented themselves. Here are the highlights:
The defending national champions would have none of it. They dominated the Rebels on both sides of the ball as they went on to win 25-0. Our Alabama blog, Roll Bama Roll, was ecstatic after seeing the defense play so well for four quarters.
I can't say enough about this group of young men. Zero points allowed, forced two turnovers, three turnovers on downs (two in the redzone) and a safety. That vaunted Ole Miss offense that "would be able to score some points" only gained 205 total yards- 46 rushing, 1.8 yards per rush, 159 passing and a sad face 5.1 yards per pass.
To say the entire defense played with a fire in their belly for four quarters would be a gross understatement. Outside of a few well designed plays by Ole Miss, the defense as a whole played strong at the point of attack, was able to get pressure on Wallace and generally kept everything in front of them. That's called textbook defense against a spread rushing attack like Ole Miss.
After the tough loss, there were some Ole Miss fans who were clearly unhappy with the coaches and how the team played. The guys over at Red Cup Rebellion offered their insight into the game.
Here's a sobering fact: the last time Ole Miss was shut out was 1998, when both Auburn and Arkansas shut the Rebels out. That team still went to and won a bowl game, so this season is nowhere close to over, y'all. Don't get all chicken little on us yet.
And while I'm here, let me somewhat set up a straw man; something in particular that folks are sure to talk about over the next week is Hugh Freeze's decisions to go for it on several fourth downs within field goal range. I can say with the luxury of hindsight that, if we had made those field goals anyway, something which is far from a given, we would have still lost the ballgame. What this indicates about our coach's decision making I cannot say, nor will I pretend to have such clairvoyance.
Ole Miss is definitely a team on the upswing, but it is simply not ready to win a game like this one. It doesn't have a dominant line or a reliable big back to get tough yards between the tackles. Bo Wallace is perhaps the best bad quarterback I've ever seen, but he's still a kind of bad quarterback. You're just not winning a conference title with Bo Wallace. [...]
As for Bama, it survived and advanced. It wasn't pretty and Nick Saban will have plenty to ride on his team about, but they got the W. It sure beats the alternative.