Tide Doesn't Fare Well In Stats Battle

Statistics are for losers. Figures can lie and liars can figure. Over the years we've considered the naysayers of SEC football statistical comparison to have their heads in the sand, primarily because Alabama was at the top of the statistics and also pounding the opposition.

As Alabama prepares to host Ole Miss in a key Southeastern Conference game on Saturday, the statistical picture is not so bright for Coach Nick Saban's Crimson Tide. Bama and the Mississippi Rebels will kick off at 5:30 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium with ESPN televising the game.

Places where Alabama has traditionally been very, very strong are almost embarrassing, even though the Tide is 3-0 and ranked first in the nation. Both Bama and Ole Miss are 3-0, including 1-0 in SEC games. The Rebels are ranked 21st in the nation.

During the Saban era, and particularly over the past four years when the Tide has won three national championships, Alabama has been the nation's most dominant team. Bama has also been among the top SEC teams on offense, particularly in rushing. And Alabama has been very, very good on third downs.

So it's a bit of surprise to see that Alabama ranks 14th in the 14-team SEC in rushing offense, 13th in total offense, 9th in total defense, 14th in first downs, 13th in third down conversions.

Alabama is fifth in the league in scoring at 38.3 points per game, well behind leading Texas A&M at 50.2 ppg, but just ahead of this week's opponent, le Miss, at 38.0. Even though Bama has played that high-scoring Texas A&M (winning 49-42), the Tide is fourth in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing 19.3 points per game. Florida leads at 14.7 ppg and Ole Miss is 10th at 23.7.

Bama is averaging only 132 yards per game rushing, while Missouri leads the SEC at 270 yards per game rushing. Ole Miss is second at 250 yards per game. On defense, the Rebels are third, allowing only 114.3 yards per game (Florida leads at 55.3) and Alabama is sixth, giving up 122.7 per game on the ground.

In passing, Alabama is 10th in the league, 238.7 yards per game, a tick behind Mississippi at 240 per game. A&M leads at 391. On the defensive side in passing, Alabama is 11th, giving uip 250.3 yards per game. Florida leads at 157 and the Rebels are eighth at 218.3.

Alabama is 13th overall in offense, 370.7 yards pzer game. A&M is averaging 602.2 yards per game to lead the conference, while Ole Miss is tied for fourth at 490. In total defense, Bama is ninth, giving up 373 yards per game (Florida leads, allowing 212.3), and Ole Miss is fifth, giving up 332.7.

Alabama and Ole Miss are even in that very important statistic of turnover margin. Both are plus 1.

In third down conversions, Alabama is 13th, 11-33 for 33.3 per cent, while Ole Miss is fourth at 51.2 per cent, 21-41. The Tide is third in defense on third downs, allowing 12-40 for 30 per cent. Florida leads at 7-37 for 18.9 per cent. Mississippi gives up 40 per cent, 18-45.

In individual statistics, Vinnie Sunseri is one of five players who have two interceptions in three games, and Sunseri leads the league in interception return yardage (111) and interceptions for touchdowns (2).

Christion Jones is tops in the SEC in both punt and kickoff returns. On punts, he has nine returns for 131 yards, 14.6 per return, and one touchdown. On kickoff returns, he has eight for 238 yards for a 29.8 yards per return average with one touchdown.

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