It's Here

And now it is finally here - Ole Miss-Alabama week.

It isn't quite like we would have drawn it up. But it's here, nonetheless.

Ole Miss and Alabama has always been a big game. It will be again Saturday, and from all indications it's scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on CBS. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will be rocking.

Too many times for the Rebel faithful has this one gone the wrong way. Way too many. But a lot of times it's been close.

Like last season. The second half of the 24-20 Alabama win in Tuscaloosa seemed to turn the Rebels' season around.

You've seen what's happened so far this year. Alabama is one of the country's most impressive teams. Ole Miss, not so much. At least not yet. But they're still working on that.

The Rebels had a good first half at Vanderbilt, probably their best first half of the season. Maybe their best half of 2009. The second half, a different story, though.

The Rebels had chances to put the Commodores away. They couldn't. Interceptions kept giving the home team chances to come back. And they couldn't either.

But the Rebel defense, surely a unit that should always give this team a chance to win, just keeps on impressing.

Keep a couple of things in mind. SEC scores for Vandy this season have been just about like the Rebels' 23-7 win. There was a 23-9 LSU win and a 15-3 MSU win.

So the Rebels just followed the storyline this season when it comes to playing the Commodores.

And remember, this is a Vandy program under Bobby Johnson that except for a 17-10 loss to the Rebels three years ago in Oxford, would have entered Saturday night's game on a four-game win streak against Ole Miss.

Fathom that for a moment.

That's why Houston Nutt and company will gladly take this one and get out of Music City. There have been a lot worse moments against this particular program.

But there's work to be done. And the Rebels will go back and get to it.

Last year against Vanderbilt, it was turnovers that cost the Rebels dearly. Against Alabama, Nutt said Ole Miss can't afford them either.

"You can't turn the ball over against anybody in the SEC if you want to win consistently," he said. "So you can't gift wrap turnovers. You can't do that. We're not going to do it next week."

The consensus appears to be so far this season that the elite teams in the SEC are Florida in the East and Alabama in the West. Those two teams have mostly backed it up.

The Rebels would like to get to Florida, and that would be only be possible in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. They know that with a loss already to South Carolina and the Crimson Tide rolling so far, they'll need to win this one coming up to have their best shot to get there.

A win Saturday would do wonders for all things Ole Miss.

But everybody who has been paying attention knows they will have to kick it up a notch to do so.

The players know that as well.

"We know we have a big challenge next week," Dexter McCluster said. "We have a few things to correct, but we are getting our momentum back and that will lead to good things."

For a short while, they savored their first SEC win of the season. After recent games between the two, it was good to once again wrap up a victory over Vandy in red and blue.

"It's always tough beating Vanderbilt, if you go back through the history," Nutt said, obviously having studied up on his Ole Miss-Vanderbilt record book. "Y'all know it better than I do. This is always a tough, very close ballgame. We knew that. We knew what to expect from Bobby Johnson's teams. They always play hard. They're sound. They're well-coached, and they're tough, especially at home. This was a good win."

This week, a win will obviously be harder to get. But back to work they'll go to try to do just that.

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