Ole Miss has been the only riddle Alabama couldn't quite solve. The two teams get another shot at one another on Saturday when they play the first marquee SEC game of the season at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
The Rebels need to follow the five-step guide they've put together for beating the best team in the land, in what's become a legitimate SEC West headliner. And beating Alabama again's going to be a hard trick to make work.
The Tide are ranked No. 1 nationally, with a smooth win over Western Kentucky following a 52-6 demolition of USC in Week 1. The Tide demonstrated the second-most talented team in the country was no match for them, but they're not going to win that lopsidedly every week. No. 19 Ole Miss is one of the few teams on Bama's schedule that could beat it on the right day, and that's just what the Rebels have done the last two years.
Beating Alabama requires high-end talent. It also requires lots of luck and a fair bit of absurdity, like your quarterback having a pass batted back to him and then throwing a tipped ball across the field that gets caught and run back for a 65-yard touchdown against the best defense in the country in front of thousands of their screaming fans. Stuff like that.
Ole Miss has figured out how to slay this dragon two years in a row, winning at Vaught-Hemingway in 2014 and then in Tuscaloosa last year. No way that happens a third time in a row, right? Right?
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS. The broadcasters are Verne Lundquist (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (analyst) and Allie LaForce (sideline).
Online streaming: CBS Sports
Spread: Alabama opened as a 9.5-point favorite.
Three big things to know
1. Chad Kelly against Jalen Hurts. They're similar, sort of. Ole Miss's QB is just as threatening on the ground as he is through the air, and Alabama's true freshman is a dazzling dual threat. Kelly is bigger and broader, but both are dangerous. Ole Miss's defense already has some injuries, and that might help Hurts close the experience gap between him and Kelly. Most freshmen are nowhere near Kelly's caliber, but Hurts might be.
2. Does Ole Miss have the horses? Alabama is a couple of guys deep at every position. Ole Miss has recruited well (maybe too well) under Hugh Freeze, but their depth's been tested already this year. Physical cover cornerback Ken Webster is out for the year, and the backfield is really thin in numbers already. There could be some pressure points here, and it's fair to expect Bama to find them.
3. Watch the trenches, especially when Bama has the ball. Ole Miss' defensive line is terrifyingly good. Defensive ends Marquis Haynes and John Youngblood can harass Hurts, and tackles Breeland Speaks and D.J. Jones are great pluggers who can get into the backfield. They'll be a challenge for the Bama interior, while the matchup of Haynes against Tide left tackle Cam Robinson is one of the best anywhere this season.