No. 9 Alabama holds on late for road win over No. 11 Ole Miss


CW / David Gray

No. 9 Alabama’s Byron Young (47) sacks Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) in the Crimson Tide’s 30-24 win over No. 11 Ole Miss on Nov. 12 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

Austin Hannon | @austin_hannon1, Sports Editor

OXFORD, Miss. – Under an hour before kickoff, No. 9 Alabama found out that its chances of repeating as SEC champions were gone. 

And out of the gate, it looked like the Crimson Tide didn’t care to play. But after getting down 10-0 early, Alabama fought back to defeat the No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels 30-24 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. 

“I’m really, really proud of our players and how they competed in the game,” head coach Nick Saban said. “You’re responsible for the identity that you create, and it’s personal in terms of how you play and compete in the game [to try to] dominate the guy you’re playing against. I saw a lot of that in the second half, so we took a step in the right direction. We had to overcome a lot of adversity in the game. We didn’t get off to a great start, but the players just kept playing one play at a time and made the plays at the end of the game that we needed to make.” 

The Crimson Tide (8-2, 5-2 SEC) won’t be in the SEC title game on Dec. 3. It will be the LSU Tigers, who took down the Arkansas Razorbacks to clinch the SEC West on Saturday. But that doesn’t mean Alabama has nothing to play for. With its win over the Rebels (8-2, 4-2 SEC), the Crimson Tide’s chances at an 11-win season look a lot brighter. 

“It was a tough night in a lot of ways, but it was a great night for us,” Saban said. “We took a step in the right direction as a football team.” 

Saban said that the message all week long was to play with pride and for the legacy of the Alabama football program. He was pleased with how his team responded. 

“[The players] have a lot of pride in what the standard of playing at Alabama is,” he said. “I think they showed it in the game tonight.” 

Giving up 403 yards isn’t Alabama’s standard on defense, but the Crimson Tide’s defensive unit stepped up in the second half. After giving up 17 points and 237 total yards in the first half, Alabama stymied Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss offense, allowing just 166 yards in the final two quarters. 

In its losses this season, the Crimson Tide defense has struggled getting big stops down the stretch. 

That wasn’t the case on Saturday.  

After the Rebels scored on their opening possession of the second half, they punted twice and turned the ball over on downs twice in their final four drives. 

With Alabama leading by six with 2:23 to go, Ole Miss had one more chance to win the game. After two big runs by Quinshon Judkins, the Rebels were squarely in position for the game-winning score. 

Ole Miss had the ball at the Crimson Tide’s 14-yard line — and it looked like another ensuing field storming. Instead, Alabama held strong — highlighted by a six-yard sack by Mississippi native Byron Young. And after Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart’s final throw fell incomplete, the Crimson Tide kneeled the ball to cap off an impressive road victory. Byron Young finished the game with two sacks and a forced fumble. 

“Byron played great,” Saban said. “[He’s a] Mississippi guy, so I’m sure he was fired up for the game. He’s played really well for us all year. He’s a good leader on the team — glad to see him play well.” 

“I would say it was emotional,” Byron Young said about playing in his home state. 

“We came out with a different mindset,” he said. “We knew we needed some stops, so we were just focused on everyone executing every single play.” 

Alabama had an unlikely hero on offense. Quarterback Bryce Young performed up to his usual standard, throwing for 209 yards and three touchdowns. But it was backup running back Jase McClellan who starred in the chilly Mississippi game. 

After Jahmyr Gibbs went down with an ankle injury in the second quarter, McClellan came in and ran the ball 19 times for 84 yards. 

“I mentioned what a great job [McClellan] did in the second half,” Saban said. “He made some physical runs. He had to step up tonight and he took advantage of it.” 

“I stepped up when my team needed me,” McClellan said. “We had a couple guys go down, so I just took that role.” 

The Crimson Tide has two remaining games in the regular season — both at home. Before the Iron Bowl with Auburn in two weeks’ time, Alabama will host Austin Peay State University at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19. 

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT on SEC Network+. 

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]