By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss Rebels will host the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in an SEC West showdown under the lights of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on ESPN.
The two teams will battle both the elements and each other as the remnants of Hurricane Delta pass over Oxford after making landfall on the Gulf Coast in the late afternoon on Friday.
Ole Miss (1-1, 1-1 SEC) is coming off a 42-41 overtime victory over the Kentucky Wildcats in the Blue Grass State.
Quarterback Matt Corral has led the Rebel offense under center guided by Head Coach Lane Kiffin. Corral has thrown for a total of 715 yards in the first two games of the season. He has connected with four different receivers for a total of seven touchdowns over both games.
Junior Elijah Moore leads the receiving core with 20 receptions for a total of 319 yards.
Alabama rolls into town with a 2-0 overall record on the young season. The Crimson Tide has won every game by at least 19 points, including a 52-24 over No. 13 Texas A&M last week. Alabama has averaged 45 points in its two wins this season. Mac Jones has taken over at signal-caller after the departure of the 2018 Walter Camp Player of the Year and a first-round draft pick, Tua Tagovailoa. Jones leads the conference and nation in pass efficiency (222.1) and is No. 4 in the NCAA in passing yards per game (342.0). The redshirt-junior has thrown for six TDs on the season, compared with just one interception.
DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle have been Jones’ primary targets through the first two games. The receiving duo is averaging right at seven receptions per game apiece. Waddle has a team-high three receiving TDs. Najee Harris leads the Alabama rushing attacking, averaging 70.5 yards per game with five rushing touchdowns.
“Every year is new. Every year is different. We’ve got to play better,” Kiffin said.”We got to limit explosive plays, keep the ball in front of us. Now they have another receiver. I’ve never even heard of that went for 150 that runs by everybody. I thought there were two, now there’s three. We got to find a way. No one else has found a way for a while.”
The Tide is allowing 386.0 yards per game, with 294.0 coming through the air. Christian Harris, a 2019 Freshman All-American, leads Alabama with eight tackles per game. Star linebacker Dylan Moses ranks No. 3 in the SEC with three tackles for loss.
Ole Miss and Alabama are no strangers to meeting on the gridiron as Saturday’s matchup will be the 68th all-time game between the two programs. Alabama holds a 55-10-2 record advantage in the original series. After vacated wins, the Crimson Tide holds a 54-10-2 series lead, including a 9-4 advantage in games played in Oxford.
Kiffin was the offensive coordinator for Saban for three seasons (2014-16). During that span, Alabama only lost two regular-season games, both to Ole Miss (one in 2014 and one in 2015). The NCAA later vacated the 2014 win.
“We worked together for three years, learned a lot from him. Had a great run,” Kiffin said. “I think we won 24 or 26 straight games when I was over there. Very productive times with a lot of great players and a lot of great wins. Only two regular season losses were to Ole Miss. Good time and obviously very grateful to him.”
Fans unable to make it to Oxford for the game can watch all the action on ESPN.