Bama tames the Rebels in SEC clash

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

There was no rebellion at Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

The Alabama football team defeated Ole Miss 42-21 Saturday afternoon. It’s not easy playing a conference opponent, especially an opponent as talented on offense as the Rebels. But the Crimson Tide had yet another dominating performance in an undefeated season. 

“I’m really pleased with the win today,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said after the game. “It’s a great win. They’ve got a great team.” 

The success of any offense or defense hinges on the play of the respective lines. On Sept. 18, against the Tulane Green Wave, the Rebels had over 400 rushing yards. The offensive line kept quarterback Matt Corral’s pocket relatively clean, giving him time to throw or run if he wanted. 

Last season against Alabama, the Rebels rushed for 264 yards. The offensive line created lanes for the Rebels’ running backs.

Alabama needed to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Then, the Rebels’ offensive rhythm would be disrupted, and Alabama could control the tempo of the game. 

The Crimson Tide did just that. 

Ole Miss received the opening kickoff. Early on, the Rebels got into the up-tempo rhythm head coach Lane Kiffin likes to play with. The Rebels got two consecutive first downs and found their way to the Alabama six-yard line. 

The Crimson Tide defense kept the Rebels out of the end zone. That was the spark the defense needed to keep the pressure on the Rebels’ offense. 

Following the first drive of the game, the Rebels had two turnovers on downs, a punt, and a fumble to end those drives. The Rebels’ offense could not control the game as easily as they had in their first three games. 

“We got dominated up front,” Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin said after the game. 

The Crimson Tide held the Rebels’ offense to just 289 yards, giving up only 78 rushing yards. The Rebels also only averaged 2.3 yards per rushing attempt. The defense sacked Corral two times for a loss of 11 yards and had seven tackles for loss. 

After the Rebels’ offensive showings against their first three opponents, it came as a shock that the Crimson Tide’s defense kept the Rebels’ offense in check. 

The players, however, knew that they needed to keep the Ole Miss skill players at bay. 

“Just [to] get hands on them,” defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis said after the game, of the Crimson Tide’s defensive strategy. 

The defense knew that the Rebels are good at getting lots of yards after the catch and per carry. After giving up 10 plays of 20 yards or more to Southern Mississippi on Sept. 25, the Crimson Tide kept the explosive plays to a minimum. 

It was the type of performance the defense needed. Their energy and dominance set up the offense for success. 

On the offensive side of the ball, Alabama showed flashes of past Alabama offenses. Drives down the field were methodical and included a lot of rushing plays. Running back Brian Robinson Jr. had 36 carries alone, a career-best. 

“I didn’t expect to get 36 carries, but I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Robinson said after the game. 

Compared to Ole Miss’ 289 total offensive yards, Alabama had 451 total offensive yards. 210 of those were rushing yards.

The offensive line contributed to the dominant performance for the Crimson Tide offense. The players up front created lanes for Robinson to run for four touchdowns.

The offensive line also kept the talented Rebels pass rush at bay. This allowed quarterback Bryce Young to throw two more touchdowns. 

“They showed great physicality,” Robinson said. 

As physical as the Rebels’ defense had played coming into Saturday’s game, keeping the defense out of the backfield was a huge win for Alabama. It allowed the offense to control the tempo of the game. 

It also kept the Rebels’ offense off the field. 

The Crimson Tide still struggled to finish, however. After leading 35-0 at the half, the Crimson Tide allowed the Rebels to score three touchdowns in the second half. 

This team is not perfect, but it is heading in the right direction ahead of its matchup against the Texas A&M Aggies.