Defense Keys Tide Win (Updated: Stats)
Alabama is now 6-0 overall and 3-0 in Southeastern Conference games. The Tide was ranked third in the nation going into the game. Ole Miss was ranked as high as 16th in the nation before Saturday's game. Earlier in the year the Rebels had been considered the favorite for the SEC Western Division championship and had been ranked fourth in the nation. Mississippi fell to 3-2 overall and 1-2 in SEC games.
Alabama returns to Tuscaloosa next Saturday to host South Carolina in an SEC game. It will be homecoming at The Capstone. Kickoff time had not been announced other than it will be either at 2:30 p.m. CDT on CBS or 6:45 on ESPN.
Alabama had five scores in six Red Zone trips, which on the surface seems pretty good. Bama, though, couldn't punch in touchdowns. Leigh Tiffin had a personal best five field goals. The Crimson Tide's lone touchdown was a 36-yard Mark Ingram burst on a fourth-and-one play late in the first half.
Alabama's first two possessions were non-productive and the Tide faced third and 11 on its third time with the ball. Greg McElroy completed a short pass to Mark Ingram, who ran for the first down. Ingram then got a rushing first down. On a third and two from the 17, McElroy connected with tight end Colin Peek at the Ole Miss three-yard line. Rather than run the ball in, Alabama tried three passes--all incomplete--and had to settle for a 25-yard Leigh Tiffin field goal. With 2:46 to play in the first quarter, Alabama had taken a 3-0 lead.
Alabama's offense was unable to take advantage of the opportunity provided by an outstanding interception by Javier Arenas. Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead had passed to Shay Hodge for what looked like a first down, but Arenas wrestled the ball away at the Ole Miss 25. Bama got a first down at the 12, but then stumbled and had to settle for a 21-yard Tiffin field goal. With 5:57 remaining in the first half, the Tide had extended its lead to 6-0.
Alabama's offense was unable to take advantage of a true opportunity when Cory Reamer blocked an Ole Miss punt, giving Bama the ball at the Rebels' five-yard line. Ole Miss had poor field position owing to a bad decision on a kickoff return and a penalty and faced fourth-and-nine from the seven when Reamer broke through and blocked the punt.
But after a one-yard Ingram run from wildcat, McElroy missed on two passes to Julio Jones. Tiffin's third field goal was good from 22 yards. Bama's lead was 9-0 with 3:56 remaining in the first half.
Although the defense gets an assist for holding Ole Miss and allowing only a minute to run off the clock, the Crimson Tide offense finally got a touchdown with 55 seconds to play in the first half. It was mostly Mark Ingram, including his 36-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one. Ingram had also gained 16 yards on the first two carries of the six-play, 61-yard drive. Three short completed passes gained nine yards, and with just over a minute to play Bama elected to run on fourth down. Julio Jones had an excellent kickout block to free Ingram, who was untouched on the run. Tiffin kicked it to a 16-0 halftime lead for the Tide.
In the first half, Ole Miss did not run a play in Alabama territory and the Rebels had been held to 19 yards on 22 plays and had one first down. Bama had 11 first downs and had 20 rushes for 117 yards. McElroy was not having a great day, but had completed 12-26 for 113 yards and Bama had 120 yards of passing yardage. Alabama had the advantage in time of possession, 21:03 to 8:57.
The Alabama offense, however, seemed to be out of sync in the first half, primarily because it had failed to capitalize on touchdown opportunities.
Ole Miss cut the lead to 16-3 with a nice third quarter drive. The Rebels went from their 32 to inside the Alabama five before the drive was stopped. Snead had pass completions to both Shay Hodge and fullback Brandon Bolden for nice gains. Joshua Sheene was good on a 25-yard field goal with 7:49 to play.
Javier Arenas had an excellent return of the ensuing kickoff, deep into Ole Miss territory, but a hold on the return forced Bama to start back at its own 20. Although the drive stalled, on the punt, the Rebels' outstanding Dexter McCluster was hit by Reamer and fumbled and recovered at the Ole Miss 40.
Although McElroy was sacked for an 11 yard loss before completing a pass for four yards, he rescued the drive with a 16-yard completion to Maze. On fourth and one, Ingram went over right guard for a three and a first. From there Ingram went 25 to a first-and-goal at the three.
Alabama offensive inefficiency near the goalline continued as McElroy fumbled trying to handoff for a loss of three on first down. After Ingram ran for a couple, McElroy missed Jones in the end zone.
With 1:03 remaining in the third quarter, Tiffin kicked his fourth field goal of the game, a 21-yarder that moved him into second place in Bama history in career field goals made. Bama had a 19-3 lead to take to the fourth quarter.
A pass interference call against Alabama set the Rebels up at the 10 yard line. Justin Woodall, who had a first quarter interception, broke up the fist down pass. On second down, Kareem Jackson intercepted Snead at the five and returned it 79 yards to the Ole Miss 16.
From the 16, Trent Richardson continued Alabama's offensive failure to take advantage of good fortune. He fumbled the ball back to the Rebels at the Ole Miss nine.
Ole Miss was as generous as Alabama. Snead passed to a falling Markeith Summers. The ball popped up and Rolando McClain picked it off at the Ole Miss 22. Bama, of course, was unable to move the ball and Tiffin was called on for his fifth field goal of the day, a 31-yarder. With 10:54 to play, Alabama had a 22-3 lead.
Cory Reamer had an outstanding game for Bama. He had four tackles, including one for a loss, had a big rush on Snead, blocked a punt, and caused and recovered a fumble on a kickoff.
Rolando McClain was the Tide's defensive leader with seven tackles (four primary), a tackle for loss and an interception.
Alabama's defense turned in five turnovers, making four interceptions and recovering a fumble. Bama has had nine takeaways in the past two games. Alabama suffered one turnover, a lost fumble.
Bama held Snead to 11-34 passing for 140 yards, but other than avoiding interceptions, Bama's McElroy wasn't much better, 15-34 for 147 yards.
The brightest offensive spot for Alabama was Mark Ingram rushing 28 times for 172 yards and the game's only touchdown. His total was 100 yards more than Ole Miss's entire running production.
Alabama had 354 yards of total offense, but only 117 in the second half. Ole Miss, on the other hand, had only 23 yards of total offense in the first half, but had 189 in the second half.
Bama had a huge margin in time of possession, 38:19 to 21:41.
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