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Ole Miss vs. Alabama: Kiffin Knows Crimson Tide Will Be a Challenge

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

The Ole Miss Rebels are heading into an SEC West showdown with No. 2 Alabama this Saturday inside Vaught Hemingway Stadium.

Ole Miss picked up its first win under Lane Kiffin over the weekend at Kentucky with a score of 42-41 in overtime.

“Good job of finding a way to win. Game could have went either way,” Kiffin said. “They played extremely well, extremely hard, and could have easily won the game. Very competitive game… A lot of work to do. Didn’t run the ball that well in the game. No consistency and obviously didn’t stop the run or play well on defense until later in the game when we got a couple stops, so a lot of work to do.”

According to Kiffin, Alabama is the “No. 1 team in the country coming in, in my opinion,” with all three phases of the game are being played at a top-notch level.

“The premier program in the country, no offense to Clemson,” Kiffin said. “Those are the two premier programs that are operating on the highest level over the last 10 years, and this one’s doing it in the SEC, which is a little bit harder. We’ll have our hands full; I think this is probably best team Coach has had, as far as being balanced all over and not having holes anywhere. They play a really high level on offense, really good on special teams, great returner. Playing really good defense.”

Coach Nick Saban has had success against Ole Miss in the last three meetings. 

“The average score in this match has been something like 62-13, or 14 or something,” Kiffin said. “We got a great challenge on our hands.”

Saban has remained undefeated when taking the field against his various former assistants over the years. Kiffin is one of those, having worked under Saban at Alabama for three seasons (2014-16).

“Well, all these people would say that it’s an advantage because I worked with him. I don’t really understand that,” Kiffin said. “He’s 20-0 against coaches that worked for him. If you working for him gives you an advantage, you’re not a very good gambler, because 20-0 is a pretty strong record.”

Over the past several years, Saban has gone from a running attack to more of an RPO style of play. 

“They are so much more dynamic on offense, and how they play, and they’re pushing the ball downfield. We played them, they had Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, great offensive line, McElroy, all that. But it was a different offense,” Kiffin said. “A more, grind it out, slow. People could keep scores closer. Now they just kind of blow everybody out, just a totally different style of offense, whatever that’s been the last six years.”

The Crimson Tide’s quarterback Mac Jones was recruited by Kiffin while he was at Alabama and waited his turn to play behind Tua Tagovailoa.

“I always thought the cool thing about Mac, was everybody said, ‘Why would you go there with Tua?’ And he didn’t care,” Kiffin said. “He was very competitive but really confident in himself. Awesome family. Glad he’s doing well. Who would have thought these two quarterbacks are first and second in the country in quarterback efficiency. Happy he’s doing well.”

Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. inside the Vaught on ESPN.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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