No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. No. 19 Ole Miss Rebels (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday September 17th , 2016. 3:30PM (EST)
Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Oxford, M.S.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ALA -10/MISS +10
Over/Under Total: TBA
One of the colossal SEC matchups of the season will transpire this Saturday when the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide roll into Oxford for a date with the no. 19 Ole Miss Rebels. Alabama currently owns the longest active winning streak in the FBS with 14 consecutive wins stemming from last years National Championship run. Ironically, the team that handed the Tide that last loss is the same Ole Miss Rebels team that they will play this Saturday. In fact, the Rebels have actually won the last two regular season meetings over Alabama. In both victories, the Rebels were underdogs and they will be in a similar situation again when both teams tangle inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly will get the chance to earn his 2nd straight victory over Alabama. In last years matchup, Kelly connected for 3 touchdowns and rushed for another as the Rebels put up 43 points in the 43-37 victory. It was the only time all year that we saw Alabamas top ranked defense on their heels through all 4 quarters. The question this week is can Kelly and the Rebels offense come up with another big outing? Alabamas defense has been nothing short of incredible through the first two games. The Crimson Tide has given up just 16 points combined in their first two games including that 52-6 shellacking over 20th ranked USC in the opener. During that same stretch, the defense has given up just 220 total yards on average in each of those games.
I know Alabamas defensive prowess is nothing new and the Rebels have been able to overcome their tough defense in their recent meetings. However, Ole Miss does not have the big wide receiving threats on the outside that they have had in recent years. Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core both played big roles in the prior two upsets over the Crimson Tide. In each upset, the Rebels offense threw for 3 passing touchdowns. The size and physical nature of those receivers proved to be the advantage over the Alabama corners which gave the Rebels opportunities in the passing game.
The problem with this weeks matchup if you are hoping for a Rebels Hat Trick is the fact that this offense does not have any proven go to guys in the receiving corps. Tight end Evan Engram has been the biggest target for Kelly so far this season with 11 receptions and 164 yards. The offense has been hoping that WR Damoreea Stringfellow can be that go to threat but that has not quite been the case so far. I believe Kelly is a good enough quarterback to get the job done again this week but I am just not as convinced in the supporting cast around him.
Meanwhile, Alabama has been pretty solid thus far offensively. After a somewhat shaky start in the opener against USC, freshman Jalen Hurts has put together 6 solid quarters of play behind center. Last week, Hurts was 23 of 36 for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns in the 38-10 victory over Western Kentucky. Both ArDarius Stewart and Calvin Ridley have big play potential on the outside. Both receivers are only going to get better as the offense progresses.
The same could possibly be said for the running back position. Going into the year, Bo Scarbrough was expected to be the new Nick Saban work horse but that has not exactly unfolded as planned. In fact, Damien Harris has proved to be the best rusher so far this season with 183 yards on just 20 carries. It will be interesting to see how this Alabama offense evolves over the course of the season and in their first big SEC game this week. You can tell the offense has enormous potential but they are still a team that is trying to piece together their identify on the offensive side of the ball. Will more answers or questions arise this Saturday?
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is a tough play but I am just not convinced Alabama has everything clicking on offense yet. I know the final scores may not indicate any weaknesses but I expect things to be different on the road in Oxford this week. The Rebels will find a way to compete for the victory! Take Ole Miss +10
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