Can a mentee finally beat the mentor? We’ll find out when Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss Rebels go to Tuscaloosa to take on Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Saban is 23-0 against former assistants who have become head coaches.
The No. 12 Rebels are 4-0 and have the most exciting offense in college football right now. Ole Miss averages 299 rushing yards and 340 passing yards per game. They’ve averaged 26 plays of 10 or more yards per game and converted on 12-of-14 fourth down attempts this season. Kiffin has turned junior quarterback Matt Corral into a Heisman Trophy candidate as Corral ranks in the top-eight nationally in passing yards, total offense, points responsible for, yards per attempt and passing efficiency. On defense, the Rebels will hope senior defensive end Sam Williams can keep up his hot start to the season. Williams leads the SEC in sacks per game and forced fumbles. Ole Miss would love if he can get to the quarterback, force turnovers and create more opportunities for their offense.
Alabama started the year No. 1 and have not budged from that spot with a 4-0 start. The Crimson Tide offense is firing on all cylinders in 2021, scoring more than 44 points in three of four games despite losing their starting quarterback, running back and top two receivers from a year ago. But Alabama has reloaded behind the play of freshman quarterback Bryce Young, who leads the SEC in passing efficiency and touchdown passes. The Tide defense has held their opponents to 14 points or less in three games this season and rank in the top five in the conference in both passing and rushing defense. Junior linebackers Christian Harris and Henry To’oTo’o lead the team in tackles, while six different Tide defenders have an interception this year.
Alabama enters this game as the favorite, but if this game is anything like the 2020 version, expect fireworks. Last year, Alabama beat Ole Miss, 63-48, in a game with an SEC-record 1,370 yards of offense.