Shutout Surprise

The second half is where Ole Miss has been its best in big games this year, namely Vanderbilt and Texas. To win against Alabama, that was going to have to happen again.

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Didn't happen. Alabama shutout Ole Miss 9-0 in the first half and 16-0 in the second – that's 25-0 for those who might struggle with math.

It was the first shutout for an Ole Miss team, according to Rebel athletics media relations, in 15 years. Not since the 1998 Rebels, in the final season of Tommy Tuberville when Arkansas won 38-0 in Fayetteville, had a Rebel team lost and not scored a point.

"Disappointing," said Ole Miss second-year head coach Hugh Freeze, his team now 3-1 and headed to another locale in the state of Alabama next Saturday – Auburn.

"I felt we could go deep into the game and be in it," he said.

Defensively the Rebels were able to do that. It was only 16-0 in the fourth quarter. But by then the Rebels had grown tired on defense. As Freeze said, they were likely mentally worn down, too.

"It had to be frustrating to be on that side of the ball and know we never could get any life in us because we never could produce any points. But I'm real proud of their effort," he said of the defenders. "Even on the two long touchdown runs we got a guy free to make a play and missed a tackle. They're good backs and we can't give them those explosive plays."

The Rebels obviously wanted to win, but the season has been good so far. Freeze said his sights are now on Auburn.

"If you had told me we were going to be 3-1 with the schedule we had, being on the road as much as we have, I'd have been tickled pink," Freeze said.

Freeze and Tiger head coach Gus Malzahn are friends, but he said next Saturday it's all about football.

"He is a good friend. I wish him a lot of success, except for next week," Freeze said. "It's going to be another tough one."

First Half Shutout Bad Sign

In the first half, Ole Miss had no points. That was the first time for that to happen in the Hugh Freeze era. The Alabama defense had come to play.

The history of Crimson Tide football under Nick Saban didn't bode well for the Rebels in half No. 2. With Alabama leading at halftime in the Saban era, Alabama is 65-3.

Hugh Freeze
Bruce Newman

The Rebels had only five first downs in the opening half and 118 yards of offense. Jeff Scott was the leading ground gainer with seven yards on three carries.

Bo Wallace was a respectable 10-of 14 for 11 yards, and Donte Moncrief had 49 yards on five catches to lead in that department in the first half.

It didn't get a whole lot better for Ole Miss after halftime. Freeze was asked how long it had been since a team of his had been shutout.

"I can't remember," he said.

"When you were a high school coach?" was a follow up question.

Still couldn't recall one. That's because Freeze is an offensive coach whose teams normally move the ball and score points.

In the first half, it was all field goals for Alabama as the Crimson Tide led 9-0 at halftime. Cade Foster was 3-for-3 with kicks of 28 yards, 53 yards, and 42 yards.

The Rebels defense was excellent in the first half, allowing Alabama only 171 yards but standing tall when the Tide was in scoring position.

For the game, Alabama had 434 yards to 205 for Ole Miss.

Not up to Par

Neither Alabama nor Ole Miss lived up to their point productions of this season. Through three games, both were scoring nearly 40 points a contest – Bama at 38.3 and the Rebs at 38.0.

The Tide at 25 points and the Rebels with none was a surprise for most.

"We just didn't have fun like we normally do," said Donte Moncrief with six catches for 60 yards to lead the team. "We just didn't come out and execute like we're supposed to. We made a lot of mistakes on small things. We've got to fix that and get better."

The Tide is used to holding opponents scoreless in the first half. Dating back to last season, that's now five times in their last eight games for Alabama to do so.

And the Tide is used to scoring. Alabama hasn't been shutout in any football game in its last 160 contests, the longest streak in the long history of Alabama football.

Moncrief said Alabama wasn't doing all that much that was necessarily special on defense.

"They were just playing good football," he said. "They aren't going to make too many mistakes. We just had to come out and give them everything we've got."

Cody Prewitt
Bruce Newman

Moncrief, a valuable weapon in the Rebels' offense, said he wouldn't have believed a shutout of this offense was possible.

"And I promise you it won't ever happen again," Moncrief said. "That's the last time."

Bouncing Bama's Way

The Rebels saw the ball on the ground three times in the first half when Alabama had the football. But every time, the Crimson Tide came up with it.

Cody Prewitt said the Rebel defenders would like to have gotten a couple of those to turn the Tide, so to speak.

"It's aggravating," said Prewitt, with four tackles and an interception in the game. "We had three opportunities to get a turnover at a crucial point in the game, and we weren't able to capitalize on them. But you can't think about that; you have to play the next play."

An A.J. McCarron pass intercepted by Prewitt on the first play of the fourth quarter with Ole Miss still trailing but in it, down only 16-0. It was a 16-yard return for Prewitt and gave the Rebels the ball at the Tide 31. But the drive stalled on an incomplete pass from Wallace to Evan Engram at the goal line on fourth and 10 from the UA 18. The Crimson Tide took over and the shutout remained intact.

Prewitt said the Rebels leave Alabama ready to head to Auburn for another important Southeastern Conference contest.

"I think we're a lot better than we were last year. We made fewer mistakes than we did last year," he said as the Rebels lost 33-14 here in this same stadium a year ago. "But we haven't lost any confidence whatsoever."

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