How much can be determined by a statistical comparison of two football teams who have not played any common opponents? Maybe not much. Alabama and Ole Miss both opened the season against teams that were supposed to be very good, the Tide taking on Southern Cal and the Rebels meeting Florida State. Both played games that were quite a bit easier in the second week.
Conclusive evidence regarding the strengths and weaknesses of Alabama relative to Ole Miss will come Saturday when the teams meet in the Southeastern Conference opener for both. The Tide (2-0 and ranked first in the nation) and Rebels (1-1, ranked 17th) will meet in Oxford at 2:30 p.m. CDT with CBS televising.
Alabama blasted USC, 52-6, in Bama’s opening game. Ole Miss went out to a 22-point lead on FSU, but the Rebels folded in the second half and lost, 45-34. Last week the Tide downed Western Kentucky, 38-10, and Mississippi beat Wofford, 38-13.
After two games, Alabama is second in the SEC in scoring at 45 points per game and second in scoring defense, allowing 8 per game. Ole Miss is tied for third in scoring at 36 points per game, but is all the way down at a tie for 12th in scoring defense, allowing 29 per game.
One of the big surprises in the early going has been Alabama having its struggles running the football. Bama is tied for seventh in the league in rushing offense at 183 yards per game. But Ole Miss is down at 12th in rushing, 120.5 yards per game. Alabama has ranked among the nation;’s best teams against the run for years, and thus far this season is no exception as the Tide leads the league, giving up just 43.5 yards per game. Ole Miss is 12th in rushing defense, too, giving up 197 yards per game.
The Tide has a slight edge on the Rebels in passing offense, Bama fourth at 287 yards per game, Mississippi fifth at 277.5. In pass defense, Alabama is fifth, giving up 173, and Ole Miss is eighth, allowing 245.5. In passing efficiency, the Tide is first and Ole Miss second. In pass defense efficiency, Alabama is second, Mississippi 13th.
Thus, Bama is fourth in total offense, 470 yards per game, and second in total defense, allowing 216.5 yards per game. The Rebels are eighth in total offense, 398 yards per game, and 12th in total defense, giving up 442.5.
Ole Miss leads the league in one important category, converting on third downs. The Rebels have been successful on 15 of 24 opportunities, 62.5 per cent. Alabama is fourth, converting 15-33 for 45.5 per cent. Bama is third in stopping the opponent on third down plays, 10-34 for 29.4 per cent, while the Rebels are 10th in third down defense, 15-34 for 44.1 per cent.
Turnover margin is another important statistic. Alabama is even after two games with three interceptions against two lost fumbles and one pass intercepted, which ranks tied for seventh in the league. Ole Miss is last in the conference with one fumble recovery against one fumble lost and four passes intercepted for minus four.
Both teams have been very good in the Red Zone (inside the 20) on offense and not very good on defense. The Rebels have scored on all 10 of its trips inside the Red Zone, and all have been touchdowns, while Alabama is 9-9 in the Red Zone, 7 TDs and 2-2 on field goals. On defense, the teams are tied for last in percentage in the Red Zone. Bama has allowed teams inside the 20 twice and given up two field goals. Mississippi has allowed opponents nine Red Zone opportunities and all have surrendered points, 5 TDs and 4-4 on field goals.
Individually, Alabama’s ArDarius Stewart leads the league in receiving yards per game at 101.5 and is tied for touchdowns with three. Bama’s Jonathan Allen is tied for the league lead in sacks with three.