No. 1 Alabama goes on the road to face Ole Miss in an early SEC West battle that could have divisional, conference and national implications.
Hopefully, this one will yield a more exciting result as last week’s SEC on CBS showdown ended in Florida extending its winning streak over Kentucky to a whopping 30 games.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 17
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Oxford, Mississippi
Alabama: Oh, you know, just the No. 1 team in the country playing in their first true road game of the season. There’s no player this affects more than quarterback Jalen Hurts. The first-year signal caller has been excellent in his first two games (405 yards passing, 51 yards rushing, six touchdowns) and became the first true freshman start for the Tide at quarterback since 1984. But how will Hurts respond to a lively atmosphere, especially if the Tide are punched in the mouth early? If this game comes down to the wire, Hurts could be required to make some key throws late in the game. Last year, Alabama was not able to overcome its turnover problem to complete the comeback.
Ole Miss: By beating Alabama again on Saturday, Ole Miss and coach Hugh Freeze can knock off Nick Saban three times in a row, joining an illustrious fraternity featuring … Purdue? That’s right, the Boilermakers were thrice the thorn in Saban’s side (1997-99) when he was the coach at Michigan State. No one has toppled Saban three times since and few have been able to do it twice in a row since he came to Alabama. Beating the Tide would give Ole Miss an early advantage in the SEC West race. As we’ve seen before, though, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Rebels can stay at the top.
Players to watch
Damien Harris, RB, Alabama: Hurts is a good choice, but he likely needs help from Alabama’s running game for the offense to really click. As Jon Solomon wrote, the Tide’s rushing attack was lacking against Western Kentucky (3.18 yards per rush). That’s certainly not enough to push the panic button, but definitely enough to keep a close eye on the backfield. In reality, Ole Miss will have two players to corral, Harris and Bo Scarbrough. But Harris (9.15 yards per carry) has greater potential as a big-play threat. And in close, contested games, explosive plays can be huge swings.
Carlos Davis, CB, Ole Miss: If there’s a weakness to Ole Miss’ defense, it’s in the secondary. Losing cornerback Ken Webster to a season-ending knee injury against Florida State got this unit off to a rough start and Davis has been asked to pick up the slack in his absence. Going up against an offense featuring Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart will put a lot of stress on the corners, who will have to battle one-on-one, so Davis needs to have a great game.
Matchup to watch
Alabama’s offensive line vs. Ole Miss’ defensive line: If you like exciting battles in the trenches, this game should be a lot of fun. The Tide’s O-line is anchored by left tackle Cam Robinson, but Ole Miss has a salty group up front with Marquis Haynes, Breeland Speaks and Isaac Gross. There’s a ton of talent in a confined area, and Ole Miss may even have the advantage overall to disrupt the timing and flow Alabama’s offense.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / SEC on CBS — Alabama at Ole MIss: Live stream, channel, time, how to watch