It could have in this one. The Rebels had chances, especially in the second half, thanks mostly to their defense. It appeared to be the team most thought it would be at the beginning of the season – that the defense would keep the team in games and the offense would hopefully be up to the task.
The former was the case tonight, but not the latter, especially in the second half. Of Alabama's first 26 plays in the game, 23 of them were in Rebel territory. Meanwhile, Ole Miss was averaging its starting position at its own 15.
Ole Miss had only two first downs and 41 yards in the first half. The least penalized team in the SEC coming in, Ole Miss had 12 penalties in the game, half of them on special teams and many of them of the 15-yard variety.
Ole Miss was three and out on its first three possessions for a total of seven yards. By that time the Crimson Tide was up 10-0.
Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) kicked a field goal for its first points, a Jeremy Shelley 37-yarder. But a roughing the kicker penalty gave Alabama the option, and the Tide opted to try for more points. Good call.
On third and goal from the 7-yard line, Greg McElroy hit Preston Dial in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
Down 7-0, the Rebel offense, which came in as the SEC's most prolific at nearly 38 points a game, continued to struggle.
In the last minute of the first period, the Tide added three more points on a Cade Foster 49-yard field goal, a career long.
The Rebel defense continued to play well, forcing Alabama into another field goal situation for a 13-0 lead on a 20-yarder by Jeremy Shelley with eight minutes before halftime.
The Rebels finally got on the scoreboard with a Bryson Rose field goal of 22 yards with 1:28 to go before halftime. But the Tide answered with a field goal of its own as time expired, a 44-yarder from Foster.
Ole Miss had more penalty yards than total yards in the first half, and that was a killer.
The Rebels had their best sustained drive of the night on their opening possession of the second half, getting into Tide territory but no points resulted.
A backbreaker for the Rebels soon after was a third and 13 play by Alabama from its own 15. McElroy hit Trent Richardson on a short screen pass that the fleet-footed back took to the house.
Alabama led 23-3 with 7:22 to go in the third quarter, but the Rebels wouldn't quit. On their next possession, Jeremiah Masoli connected with Melvin Harris on a 15-yard reception for a touchdown to pull the Rebs to with 13 points at 23-10 with 4:40 to go in the third quarter.
Amazingly that's how the game ended with no more scoring the rest of the way.
Ole Miss had 13 first downs in the game and Alabama 15. The Rebels outrushed the Tide 133 yards to 100. Bama got the better of the passing attack 219 to 110.
Masoli was 18 for 40 through the air for all of those 110 yards with one touchdown and one interception. On the ground he ran it 10 times for 40 yards.
Brandon Bolden had 10 carries for 32 yards. Three Rebels caught four passes each – Bolden, Harris, and Ja-Mes Logan.
McElroy was 17 for 25 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Mark Ingram led the Tide rushing attack with 15 carries for 60 yards.
Defensively for the Rebels, Marcus Temple had eight tackles, while D.T. Shackelford and Fon Ingram had seven apiece.