A year ago, Alabama was able to overcome a six-point loss to Ole Miss in Oxford to win the Southeastern Conference championship and make it to the inaugural College Football Playoff. One thing the Crimson Tide gets from the Saturday/Sunday (thanks to television starting the game at 8:21 p.m. central time Saturday, the game did not end until 26 minutes after midnight) is a chance to try to rise from the dead again.
Ole Miss defeated Alabama, 43-37, in a game that could not have been much more bizzare, unless Bama had been able to win or (heaven forbid) send the game to overtime. It was the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Alabama, which had been ranked second in the nation, fell to 2-1. Ole Miss, which had been ranked 11th in the nation, is now 3-0.
Alabama returns to Bryant-Denny next week for a non-conference game against Louisiana-Monroe. Kickoff is at 3 p.m. CDT with the SEC Network televising the game.
Points off turnovers is thought of as a basketball statistic, but Ole Miss got 24 points off Crimson Tide turnovers.
Alabama ran 100 plays in the game and had over 500 yards, and yet lost in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Bama trailed the Rebels by 19 points with fewer than 10 minutes to play in the game, and yet fought back and had the football with a chance to salvage victory in the last minute.
The game also had one of the most unusual plays one would ever see in a game, and a play that could be said to have been the difference. On the opening drive of the second half, with Ole Miss holding a 17-10 lead, the Rebels faced third-and-one at their 34. The snap to Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly went over his head. He gathered it in, but was under pressure and threw high and wild downfield. An Alabama defender tipped the ball out of one potential receiver’s grasp, but the ball popped up and came down into the hands of Quincy Adeboyejo, who finished off a 66-yard touchdown play with an uninterrupted dash to the end zone.
Alaama scored three fourth quarter touchdowns, but gave up two and, therefore, needed four TDs to win the game. Alabama got the ball back with half a minute to play and 69 yards to go for a potential winning TD and extra point, but none of Jacob Coker’s passes was complete (not all his fault).
Speaking of Coker, that was part of the weirdness of the evening. Although there had been numerous reports that Cooper Bateman would start at quarterback, it is hard to tell if those type rumors are fact or fiction when not heard from Alabama Coach Nick Saban. Indeed, Bateman did start the game, and he wasn’t horrible…until he threw a horrible interception that led to a short touchdown drive for the Rebels.
That touchdown – a one-yard run by Jordan Wilkins -- ave Ole Miss a 10-3 lead. The first three Rebels points had come after Ardarius Stewart fumbled the opening kickoff and Mississippi got a 32-yard field goal from Gary Wunderlich. And before the Tide offense would get the ball back after Bateman’s interception, Kenyan Drake would fumble a kickoff and the Rebels would extend the lead to 17-3 on a four-yard Kelly run.
Bama’s three points had come on a 20-yard Adam Griffith field goal, a very unsatisfactory result after the Tide had been first-and-goal at the Ole Miss 2.
Coker was able to drive the Tide to a touchdown before halftime to cut the deficit to 17-10. Alabama went 75 yards in 15 plays with Coker hitting Richard Mullaney on a nine-yard pass for the score.
After the incredible 66-yard touchdown play by the Rebels, the Rebels were able to pad the lead with field goals of 34 and 45 yards. It was 30-10 late in the third quarter.
Coker again managed a long touchdown drive, nine plays for 69 yards, with Coker running in the touchdown himself from three yards out. It was 30-17.
Bama opened the fourth quarter with a six-play, 46-yard drive with Coker completing an eight-yard touchdown pass to Stewart to pull the Tide to within a touchdown at 30-24.
Ole Miss probably got away with one on a 73-yard touchdown pass to Cody Core that put Bama back in dire straits. Kelly ran right and threw just before he got to the line of scrimmage. Core was all alone and scored easily, but the officials ruled Kelly had been over the line. They did not see the ineligible linemen downfield. Adding to their problem, they were wrong on the illegal forward pass, which was correctly overruled by the replay official. In any event, Ole Miss had moved out to a 36-24 lead (after a 2-point conversion try failed).
Coker threw an interception, which set the Rebels up at the Alabama 31, and Kelly connected with Luquon Trreadwell for what would be the final Ole Miss points – 43 of them, compared to Alabama having only 24 with 10:02 to play.
Once again, Coker got the Tide downfield, going 75 yards in 14 plays and taking only 3:26. Derrick Henry got the touchdown to pull the Tide to within 13 points at 43-30.
Alabama’s Tony Brown recovered a perfectly executed onside kick and Alabama was set up at the Ole Miss 30 with 6:36 to play.
Coker completed the seven-play drive in just 2:03 to cut the lead to 43-37 with 4:33 to play.
Alabama got the ball back with 3:01 to play, but backed up to its seven. Coker got Bama out of a hole with a run to the 33. But then Coker threw the Tide into the hole by throwing an interception, picked off by Tony Bridges.
Bama worked the clock and held the Rebels, but it was too big a hill to climb when Alabama finally got the ball back with 31 seconds.
Alabama had 29 first downs to 16 for Ole Miss. The Tide had 42 rushes for 215 yards, the Rebels 32 carries for 92 yards. Kelly was 18-33 passing for 341 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Alabama passing was 32-58 for 288 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. (Coker was 21-44 for 201 yards and the three TDs and two interceptions. Bateman was 11-14 for 87 yards with one intrception.
In total offense, Alabama had 100 plays for 503 yards, Mississippi 65 plays for 433 yards.
Alabama leaders in rushing were Derrick Henry with 23 carries for 127 yards and one touchdown. Coker had 7 carries for 58 yards and Kenyan Drake 11-33. Stewart led the Tide in receiving with 8 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown, Richard Mullaney had 7-61 with two TDs, Calvin Ridley 6-28, and Henry 5-39. JK Scott punted twice for a 42-yard average.
Reggie Ragland led Bama in tackles with 4 siki abd fuve assists and had a pass broken up and was in on a sack.