Alabama Coach Nick Saban and his players certainly are concentrating on Ole Miss this week as the second-ranked Crimson Tide hosts No. 11 Mississippi at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It is a big game, the Southeastern Conference opener for both squads, but it’s only part of a very difficult schedule for Bama. Indeed, Alabama opened the season against highly regarded Wisconsin.
ESPN will televise the game and the network’s popular Gameday crew, including Alabama graduate Rece Davis, will be in Tuscaloosa. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. CDT.
There is a reason Bama’s schedule has been judged toughest in the nation as it contains nine teams that have been ranked in the nation’s top 25 this year, 10 teams that were in bowl games last season.
This week, though, Alabama must adhere to the adage of “play them one at a time.” The performance of the Rebels in averaging 74.5 points per game in two pre-SEC games should have the attention of the Tide.
Tough games have a reputation of bringing out the best in players, a factor attributed to having that high profile game on the schedule that demands the best.
Two things about that:
One, Saban seems to have been able to make it more about his own team “playing to a standard” as he puts it without regard to the opposition.
And, two, it may work against Alabama, because most often than not it is the possibility of defeating the Crimson Tide that provides motivation on the other side. As Saban has often said, “We get the other team’s best shot every week.”
Still, Alabama may take some comfort – and opponents some trepidation – in the Crimson Tide record, not only under Saban but all-time in playing and defeating tough teams.
For instance, this will be the 63rd meeting between Alabama and Mississippi, and Alabama has won 51 of the previous meetings (51-9-2). Bama has won its last 12 meetings against the Rebels in Bryant-Denny Stadium and is 25-1 against Ole Miss as the home team.
Alabama has an all-time winning percentage of 81.9 in Bryant-Denny (240-52-3) since the stadium opened in 1929.
Alabama is tied with Baylor for the most consecutive home field victories with 17 in a row, dating back to a loss to Texas A&M in 2012, a loss that did not deter Bama from winning the national championship.
Alabama has the most victories in the nation dating back to 2008 with 86. The Crimson Tide has been so dominant in the nation that since 2008 Bama has played only three games that did NOT have national championship implications. Following Alabama’s 24-21 loss to LSU in 2010, the Tide was essentially eliminated from national championship discussion. The final three games of that year were the only ones in 84 games in that period that did not have national championship consequences.
Alabama has the longest current streak of being ranked in the Associated Press top 10, including being ranked second in the nation this week – the 69th consecutive week in the top 10.
Ole Miss is ranked 11th in the nation, but since 2008, Alabama has a record of 32-11 against nationally ranked teams.
None of that may help. But it doesn’t hurt, either.