Week 5 – Ole Miss at Alabama

Posted Sep 27, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction – Ole Miss at Alabama

Ole Miss (3-1) at Alabama (4-0) Sept. 29, 9:15, ESPN

Here's The Deal: Nothing would get the Hugh Freeze era going more than a win over the No. 1 team in the country, but Ole Miss has lost the last eight games to the Tide and hasn't won on the road in the series since 1998. The Rebels couldn't stop Texas early but threw a few haymakers late in the 66-31 loss, and they ripped apart everyone else blowing away Central Arkansas, UTEP and Tulane. Of course, Alabama is a whole different animal, playing at the highest of levels at the moment with Nick Saban and the coaching staff apparently searching for sixty minutes of perfection every time out. So far the team has come close allowing just 21 points in the first four games blowing away a very good Western Kentucky team and Arkansas with frightening ease. With three road games in the next four, this is one more chance to keep on tuning up, but unlike games against Michigan and Arkansas, this might be a one of the more challenging tests – Ole Miss has the offense working well enough to make this a little more fun than expected.

Why Ole Miss Might Win: The run game is working so far. Michigan was Denard Robinson and hope for the best in the season opener against the Tide, while the Arkansas ground game was dead from the start. Ole Miss is getting production out of several different spots with a consistent attack that rolled up 330 yards on a UTEP defense that stopped the Wisconsin ground game, and cranked out 304 yards and four touchdowns against Tulane. The Alabama defensive front isn't going to allow anything up the middle, but Freeze and the Ole Miss staff are creative at getting several different players involved and creating spatial mismatches. No, the Rebels won't come up with 250 yards on the ground, but they should be effective at times. On the other side of the ball, the pass rush is among the best in the country with 12 sacks in four games; the Alabama O line has been a bit leaky in pass protection early on.

Why Alabama Might Win: Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Ole Miss can't stop giving them up with three in each of the last three games. How tight has Alabama been? There haven't been any interceptions and the two fumbles were quickly erased by stops from the defense. So far the Tide is +10 in turnover margin and hasn't been beating itself; there haven't been any cheap points given up so far. Offensively, Alabama has everything working to a near-perfect balance averaging 204 rushing yards and 221 passing yards per game. The Ole Miss defense doesn't have the playmakers to stop anything the tide wants to do, while the secondary could be a particular problem considering its problems with efficient passers. Texas quarterback David Ash was nearly perfect as the Longhorns threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns, and Alabama's AJ McCarron should have just as much success for the nation's second most efficient passing game.

What To Watch Out For: Alright, Bo Wallace. It's time to have the game of your life. The Ole Miss sophomore quarterback is 6-5, 210 pounds and talented enough to give the Tide defense a few fits. The former Elite 11 camper originally signed on with Arkansas State before transferring to East Mississippi and winning an NJCAA national title. He threw three picks under pressure against Texas, but for the most part he has been solid and productive. The more the ground game works, the better, but the ground game isn't going to work against Alabama meaning Wallace has to push the Tide secondary and make every right decision and as many third down throws as possible. That might seem obvious, but it's all easier said than done against this D.

What Will Happen: Alabama is playing at a whole other level, and while Ole Miss will have a wee bit of success offensively, it won't be enough to keep up with McCarron and a juggernaut of a Tide offense.

CFN Prediction: Alabama 41 … Ole Miss 7
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Alabama -31 O/U: 54.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ryder Cup 2012, 1 – SNL Thursday Weekend Update): 2.5