Now the season really starts.
The Rebels had a whirlwind week one. They played two games in a six-day period, including their 38-13 win over the Terriers. Though Florida State brought frustration (Ole Miss blew a 28-6 lead en route to a 45-34 loss), Ole Miss showed glimpses of its potential, as well as the formula possibly needed to take down the Crimson Tide for the third consecutive time.
“We’ve been taking it day by day,” running back Akeem Judd said of the team’s early-season approach. “It was a short week. We haven’t really been thinking about Alabama, but we are now.”
“We’ll watch film, see what they have,” senior defensive tackle D.J. Jones said. “They’re a 2-0 team, No. 1 in the nation. We’ll approach them as such. Our confidence is high, especially after (getting win No. 1). Every win brings more confidence, so it’s higher than it was last week, obviously.”
Alabama has pretty much coasted through its first two games. The Crimson Tide embarrassed then-No. 22 ranked USC, 52-6, in its opener before making short work of Western Kentucky with a 38-10 win.
Alabama is No. 6 overall in the country in total defense. It’s rushing defense ranks No. 3, while its passing defense is No. 37. Ole Miss counters with a passing offense ranked No. 37, though the Rebels rank outside the Top 75 in total offense.
“Watching their first game, one of the announcers of the game, (Kirk) Herbstreit, I texted him, ‘Ouch.’ You don’t know a lot about other teams this early in the season, but they look fast,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “They look faster than they’ve been on defense, maybe. Offensively, I thought their quarterback moved around pretty well. I look forward to watching (the Western Kentucky film). Those guys at Western do a good job of scheming.
“We’ve got our hands full, but it’s a great opportunity. It’s not one that we’ve been afraid to take on before. We kind of relish that opportunity. I have no idea how it will go, but we’ve got them at home, and great respect for their program and what they’ve done. We look forward to getting ready for it.”
Ole Miss, historically, hasn’t fared well against Alabama. The Crimson Tide leads the overall series 48-11-2.
But the Rebels have lately showed an ability to stand toe to toe with the Crimson Tide, the defending national champion. After 10-straight Alabama wins, Ole Miss has won the last two, with its last win a 43-37 win last season in Tuscaloosa.
The Rebels look forward to round three. Kickoff is set for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
“I know this week will be a physical week in practice, and I know we will have tackling drills, tackling circuits and pods,” senior defensive tackle Issac Gross said. “It’s going to be a very physical week. I know the coaches are going to be on the scout team left and right. I know the magnitude of this game. I know how good Alabama is, and I know what it means to the state and the university to beat them.”