Tide's 7-0 Start Best Ever For Saban

Here are notes from Alabama's 24-20 win over Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday. The win improved second-ranked Bama to 7-0, including a 4-0 Southeastern Conference record. The Tide goes to Tennessee next Saturday.



Alabama's 7-0 start to the season is a first for Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban. He has been a college head coach 14 years and this is the first time he has ever had a team start l7-0. Alabama (and Saban) have eight straight wins going back to last season's Independence Bowl win over Colorado.

The win was Alabama's 300th in Tuscaloosa. Bama's Tuscaloosa record is 300-59-3, a winning percentage of .829. Bama is 251-46-3 in its current Tuscaloosa stadium.

Alabama improved its record to 45-9-1 against the Rebels. The Crimson Tide is now 23-1 in games played in Tuscaloosa, including a nine-game winning streak.

The previous three wins by Bama had each been by three points.

Alabama came into the game leading the SEC in rushing defense, allowing just 50.8 yards per game. The Tide was also leading the SEC in rushing offense at 226.3 yards per game. But it was Ole Miss that had the greatest success in rushing and rushing defense. The Rebels held Bama to only 107 yards rushing, while Ole Miss ran for 158 yards.

Looking at the game statistically:

Alabama had 15 first downs to 14 by the Rebels. Ole Miss got its 158 yards rushing on 34 carries. Alabama also had 34 carries for its 107 yards. Mark Ingram had 17 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown, and Glen Coffee 13 rushes for 52 yards.

John Parker Wilson completed 16 of 25 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns and was sacked twice. Jevan Snead completed 16 of 31 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown. He had one pass intercepted and Dexter McCluster had only one pass attempt, which was intercepted.

Ole Miss had 67 plays for 359 yards, Alabama 59 plays for 326 yards. Rushing, passing and total offense totals by the Rebels were all highs against Alabama's defense this year.

P.J. Fitgerald averaged 39.7 yards on seven p;unts and Ole Miss returned five of them for 23 yards. Ole Miss averaged 45.4 yards per punt on five punts and Javier Arenas returned two for 14 yards.

Tight end Nick Walker was Alabama's leading receiver with five catches for 65 yards. the five catches was his career best. Julio Jones had three receptions for 63 yards and Mike McCoy three for 45. Jones' 40-yard play was the longest he has had.

Rashad Johnson was the leading Tide tackler. The safety had six primary stops and three assists. He also had an interception and caused a fumble (recovered by Kareem Jackson). Freshman linebacker Dont'a Hightower and linebacker Cory Reamer were in on six tackles each and Javier Arenas had five primary tackles and broke up two passes.

Alabama got a second quarter interception from Justin Woodall, a native of Oxford, Mississippi, home of the Ole Miss Rebels. That led to a 41-yard field goal by Leigh Tiffin.

Following John Parker Wilson's touchdown pass to Marquis Maze in the first quarter, Maze was flagged for celebrating his first college touchdown. The unsportsmanlike penalty was enforced on the kickoff. Andrew Friedman handled the kickoff duty from the 15 and kicked it to the Ole Miss 24.

Friedman handled kickoffs the rest of the game.

Wide receiver Mike McCoy returned to action and started. Late in the second quarter he caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Wilson.

Brad Smelley saw his first action of the year going in on the second play of the game. In the second quarter he had his first reception of the year, a 15-yard gain for a key first down on Alabama's second touchdown drive. He is the 16th true freshman to play for Alabama this season.

Twice this year the Alabama scoreboard had malfunctions with the play clock. The problem was an unattended switch. The play clock is controlled by an official on the field. At halftime he was supposed to place the switch on a hook, but he left it on the ground and it was stepped on, which caused the problems. Beginning this week, Alabama assigned someone to take the switch from the official at intermissio0n.

Senior wide receiver Will Oakley joined senior center Antoine Caldwell and senior safety Rashad Johnson as captains. Different seniors serve as captains each week. Caldwell and Johnson, who were permanent captains in 2007, have served as captains each week.

Honorary captain for the Crimson Tide was legendary Bama and New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath. Namath was in Tuscaloosa for a fund-raising event for The University's Continuing Studies. Namath, who finished his Alabama playing career with the 1964 national championship team, earned his degree through continuing education last year.

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