Here’s How Tide, Rebs Stack Up Statistically

Five weeks into the college football season, it is interesting to hear so many saying there still are more questions than answers about the relative strength of teams across the country. The one thing that most agree on is that the Southeastern Conference West Division is a beast.

One theme making the rounds is that the SEC will “cannibalize” itself, thus knocking all teams from this most powerful conference out of national championship contention. At the end of this weekend, those cannibalism propagandists will be more blustery than usual.

That’s because three ranked SEC West teams will be matched against three other SEC ranked teams and three of them will have losses. Those who don’t accept or espouse the cannibalism theory point out that no one expected a handful of SEC teams to go undefeated. In fact, only one can. If one does, it will be a clear favorite for the national championship.

Alabama, ranked first in the Coaches Poll and third in the Associated Press ranking, will take on 11th ranked Ole Miss in Oxford at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday. CBS will televise the game. Both teams are undefeated at 4-0, but neither has played a ranked team. The Tide and Rebels are both 1-0 in SEC games.

The other SEC games include Texas A&M (5-0, ranked sixth) at Mississippi State (4-0, 12th); LSU (4-1, 15th) at Auburn (4-0, fifth); Vanderbilt (1-4) at Georgia (3-1, 13th); South Carolina (3-2) at Kentucky (3-1); and Florida (2-1) at Tennessee (2-2).

The slim body of work, owing to the lack of having played ranked opponents, makes a comparison of Alabama and Ole Miss statistics problematic. Nevertheless, here is how the teams stack up after four games.

In scoring offense, Alabama is fifth in the SEC at 42 points per game and Ole Miss is ninth at 39 ppg. Scoring defense has the Rebels second, allowing 13 ppg, the Tide third, giving up 14 ppg.

Bama is fifth in rushing offense at 258.5 yards per game, Mississippi 11th at 160.8 ypg. In rushing defense, Alabama is first, giving up 62 ypg, Ole Miss fifth, allowing 114.5.

The Tide is second in passing offense at 335.8 ypg, while the Rebels are third just one yard behind and 335.5 ypg.

In total offense, Alabama is second at 594.2 ypg, Mississippi fourth at 496.2. (Texas A&M is first at 594.6.) In total defense, Ole Miss is first, allowing 248 ypg, Bama is second, giving up 250.2.

In pass efficiency Alabama is No.1, but in pass defense efficiency the Rebels are tops. Mississippi is sixth in pass efficiency, the Tide fourth in defense efficiency.

Three statistical categories considered very important by coaches are third down conversions (offense and defense), turnover margin, and Red Zone performance (offense and defense inside the 20-yard line).

Alabama leads the league in third down conversions (34-54 for 63 per cent) and is second in third down defense (allowing 12-50 for 24 per cent). Ole Miss is fourth in conversions (29-55 for 52.7 per cent) and sixth on defense (allowing 16-58 for 27.6 per cent). The Rebels are tied for seventh in turnover margin at plus two on the year, while Bama is 13th at minus three.

In the Red Zone, the Tide offense is 10th, scoring on 20-24 opportunities (16 touchdowns, 4-4 field goals), and Mississippi is 11th at 13-16 (10 TDs, 3-4 FGs). Defensively, Ole Miss is fourth, giving up 7-10 (2 TDs, 5-5 FGs) and Alabama is last with opponents scoring on all seven trips into the Red Zone (2 TDs, 5-5 FGs).

Although time of possession may or may not be a meaningful statistic, Alabama Coach Nick Saban likes to keep the opposing offense off the field if it is a no-huddle team. To that end, Bama is doing well, leading the league with time of possession of 35:03. The Rebels are fifth (31:37).

Regarding special teams, Alabama is fifth in kickoff returns and fourth in punt returns and Ole Miss is last in both categories. The Rebels are third in punting. Bama has had only five punts this season and is fifth in the league. The Rebels are third in kickoff coverage, the Tide fifth. Alabama is third in field goals, Mississippi 11th.

In individual statistics, Alabama’s Amari Cooper leads the league in receptions per game and receiving yards per game. He has 43 catches (10.8 per game) for 655 yards (163.8 per game). The Rebels’ Senquez Golden leads the league in interceptions with three, which he has returned for 86 yards, including a 59-yard pick six.

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