Postgame Points : Ole Miss 43, Alabama 37
Point No.1: Beat Alabama Again
The first postgame point this week is that Ole Miss beat Alabama, again!
For the first time in school history, Ole Miss has recorded back-to-back wins over the Crimson Tide. The Rebels raced past Alabama 43-37 on Saturday night before 101,821 fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium to move to 3-0 on the season. Winning in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 1988, No. 11 Ole Miss beat No. 2 Alabama in a game that featured a steady diet of big plays and momentum swings from start to finish.
With ESPN’s College GameDay on location for the Ole Miss-Alabama contest for the second straight year, the Rebels once again delivered a thrilling upset of the Crimson Tide on national television. Without a doubt, Ole Miss pulled off the biggest win in college football so far this season. The coaches saw fit to promote Ole Miss to No. 5 in their poll, while the Rebels jumped to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 Poll.
What does this win mean? First, the Rebels are 1-0 in the SEC and a game up on Alabama in the SEC West standings. Secondly, Ole Miss looked like the better team throughout the night. Clearly, the Rebels expected to win this contest, even if analysts favored the Crimson Tide. It says a lot about how far this program has come under Coach Hugh Freeze when Ole Miss knows it can beat great teams like Alabama on any given Saturday. Finally, the Rebels gained a shot of confidence and momentum toward winning the SEC West and positioning themselves for a spot in the College Football Playoff. However, it was nice to hear players like Chad Kelly say that the Rebels just need to stay focused on the next opponent after the game. Hugh Freeze said much the same thing in his Monday press conference. If Ole Miss can avoid looking ahead and simply concentrate on the next opponent, they have the ability to make this a very special season.
Point No.2: Turnover Battle
One of the most important statistics in the Rebels big win over Alabama was the turnover battle. The Ole Miss offense did not turn the ball over once, while the defense and special teams combined to force five Crimson Tide turnovers. That line tells how well the Rebels played in all three phases of the game.
Winning the turnover battle in any game is of vital importance. It is even more critical when trying to pull off an upset over the second-ranked team in the country on the road. In winning the turnover battle 5-0, Ole Miss executed like a championship-quality team.
The Rebels converted the five takeaways into 24 big points, every one of which was needed to secure this victory.
Point No.3: Big Plays
There were plenty of big plays that highlighted the Rebels win over Alabama on Saturday night. The first big play came when Alabama fumbled the opening kickoff and A.J. Moore recovered it to set the Rebels up with excellent field position. In the second quarter, an interception by Trae Elston and a forced fumble by A.J. Moore on another kickoff, which was recovered by Carlos Davis, lead to a pair of Rebel touchdowns that put Ole Miss on top 17-3.
The play of the night, and one Ole Miss fans will talk about for years to come, occurred on the opening drive of the third quarter. A bad snap and hard-charging defensive linemen forced quarterback Chad Kelly to heave a desperation throw in the direction of receiver Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell got a hand on the ball, but it bounced off an Alabama helmet and right into the hands of Quincy Adeboyejo, who outran the defense for an incredible 66-yard touchdown to put Ole Miss on top 24-10.
Finally, after Alabama pulled to within 6 points early in the fourth quarter, Kelly delivered another huge play to turn the momentum in favor of the Rebels at a critical juncture in the game. Kelly faked a run that drew in Alabama’s secondary and lofted a 73-yard touchdown strike to Cody Core.
Point No.4: Offense
While nobody expected Ole Miss to hang 70 points on Alabama, few people would have predicted that the Rebels would score 43 in a big road victory over a defense directed by Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. The Ole Miss offense was efficient and effective, and of utmost importance, did not turn the ball over once against the Crimson Tide.
The rushing attack was limited to 92 yards on the night. Yet, Jordan Wilkins and Chad Kelly produced rushing touchdowns. Simply put, the Rebels made key plays in the ground game that contributed to a great team win.
In the air, Kelly completed 18 of 33 pass attempts for 341 yards and 3 scores. All 3 passing touchdowns were big plays in big moments in the game. The touchdown tosses to Adeboyejo and Core were highlights, but it was the 24-yard touchdown reception by Laquon Treadwell that provided the final margin of victory for the Rebels.
Point No.5: Defense
The Ole Miss defense seemed to make one major play after another in the upset of Alabama on Saturday night. When a defense can create five turnovers against the Crimson Tide, that team stands a great chance of pulling off an upset. Ole Miss capitalized on the Alabama mistakes to the tune of 24 points, every one of which was needed to win this heavyweight battle.
This was not a case of Alabama making costly mistakes on offense. No, the Rebel defense harassed Crimson Tide quarterbacks into making poor throws and had the coverage downfield to create takeaways. Give all the credit to the Landsharks for winning the turnover battle.
When the fact that Alabama ran 100 plays on offense is taken into consideration, the Rebel defense deserves much applause for fighting through fatigue in the fourth quarter to make plays that preserved this incredible win.