College football is amazing. Two weeks of football has past, and it has been a fun and entertaining ride thus far. By the way, it is only going to get better. Week three provides us with several intriguing matchups throughout the country, but none more than Ole Miss-Alabama.
The #17 Ole Miss Rebels will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this weekend to take on the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide in a night game in Bryant-Denny Stadium. This primetime showdown features an Ole Miss team that has cruised through an albeit easy slate of games so far, but they have looked extremely good in the process.
The big question for Ole Miss in preseason was who would take over for Bo Wallace at quarterback. The Clemson transfer Chad Kelly (who has had his fair share of off the field issues) was hoped to be the guy to step up to the plate. He certainly has. Ole Miss has scored more than seventy points in both of their previous games, and Chad Kelly has been an important part of that. Kelly has thrown for 557 yards with six scores with a completion percentage of 72.5%. The offense as a whole looks extremely dangerous and in mid-season form also.
Honestly, for all the good Bo Wallace did for Ole Miss, he was not a great quarterback. I think Chad Kelly is. He has a tremendous amount of offensive talent around him. He can handoff to the speedy, home-run threat in running back Jaylen Walton and throw it to arguably the best receiver in the SEC in Laquon Treadwell and other talented guys such as Cody Core and Quincy Adeboyejo. Do not even bring up tight end Evan Ingram. He is the best at his craft in the conference.
Ole Miss's Laquon Treadwell was one of the best receivers in the SEC last season.
The defense is not shabby either. They were one of the best units in the SEC last year. They are led up front by All-American defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who is an absolute freak. He is surrounded with talent in the form of 2013 All-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche (brother of Robert that missed a lot of 2014 with injury). The Ole Miss defense is anchored in the middle by fellow linebacker C.J. Johnson. The secondary is good too and is led by defensive backs Tony Connor, Trae Elston (two pics already), and Chief Brown (two INTs as well).
The home team is Alabama. Enough said. It is hard to beat Nick Saban's Crimson Tide, but in the ultra-intimidating college football cathedral that is Bryant-Denny Stadium, it is that much harder. The team itself is not that bad either. The Tide does not have many weaknesses. The Tide defense has arguably the best front seven in the nation. They are ridiculously good. The amount of NFL talent on this unit is incredible. Picture this: a defensive line led by stud lineman A'Shawn Robinson, Johnathan Allen, and Jarran Reed, a linebacking corps led by 2014 Butkus Award finalist and captain of the defense, inside linebacker Reggie Ragland (Bama's top returning tackler), Denzel Devall, and the hard-hitting Reuben Foster. Intimidated yet? The secondary play has been a weakness for the Tide the last couple of years, but looked solid overall in their really only test against Wisconsin, although I would not call Joe Stave stellar.
Alabama has gone back to their bread and butter on offense - running the football. They got a guy that is Heisman caliber in 6-3, 242 pound running back Derrick Henry. Henry is an absolute animal. He rushed for almost 150 yards on only thirteen carries against a pretty good Wisconsin defense on September 5th. The wide receiver position is talented but kind of unproven. O.J. Howard could prove to be one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the SEC this year.
Arguably the biggest weapon on this offense is dangerous running back/slot receiver in the electric Kenyan Drake. These guys all combine to make Jake Coker's quarterback job easier. You know the FSU transfer who did not really perform well in his previous year and offseason at Alabama. Coker has grabbed the reigns of the quarterback position and has performed well in my mind.
Derrick Henry could be the best back in the SEC this year.
Overall, it is hard to find any weaknesses on Alabama. However, Ole Miss has NFL guys too. I do not think the Rebels will be able to consistently run on the Crimson Tide's defense. Their best shot at winning is for Chad Kelly to spread the ball out and try to expose the Alabama secondary. For the defense, Ole Miss needs to try to limit Derrick Henry and the Tide's run game. Good luck. They got to make Coker beat them.
For Alabama, they just need to do what they normally do - establish the run and play solid defense. This game should be close and certainly entertaining. It will also have huge implications for not only the SEC West race but also will impact the playoff picture as well. So on Saturday night be sure to flip on the primetime matchup of Ole Miss versus Alabama. The whole nation will be watching as well.