Of course, the Rebels have a shot Saturday

The question everyone has asked this week: “Have the Rebels got a shot at Bama?”

Answer: Well, hell yes, damn right… this is college football. Much bigger underdogs than Ole Miss (15 points last time I looked) win every week in college football.

Yes, it could happen.

The other question I’ve heard: Has Ole Miss ever defeated a team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time they played?

That answer: No. It’s never happened. The Rebels have played top-ranked teams nine times over the years. They are 0-9. They have beaten several top five teams. They have beaten teams that wound up the season No. 1, but they have never beaten a top-ranked team.

Ole Miss played Alabama off its feet into the fourth quarter last year and this is a much better Ole Miss team, not quite as good an Alabama team. One big difference: Alabama kind of sleep-walked through last year’s game. That won’t happen this year. Nick Saban knows how good Ole Miss is. His team will be ready to play.

One reason I think Ole Miss has a chance: The Rebels play that fast-tempo, no huddle offense that does not allow Saban and his staff to make situational defensive changes as he normally does. Texas A & M put up 42 on Bama’s defense. Yes, I know, Ole Miss doesn’t have Johnny Manziel, but Bo Wallace can make plays. In fact, he has to make plays, several big plays, for Ole Miss to win.

Here’s what must happen for Ole Miss to win: The Rebels have to be at least plus-2 in turnovers. They have to make at least one huge play in the kicking game. Bo must play at his top level and not put the ball on the ground or throw the ball to anyone in Crimson jerseys.

I fully expect both teams to be ready to play and I fully expect Hugh Freeze to take a chance or three: maybe a fake punt, maybe an onsides kick, maybe a trick play. Maybe all three. But something. Freeze will take some chances, especially in a matchup like this where he knows Bama has more and better talent overall.

Bottom line: I’ve seen much bigger upsets than this one would be. State 6, Bama 3; USM 30, Ole Miss 14; even Ole Miss 31, Florida 30 come immediately to mind.

If this game were in Oxford, I’d give the Rebels a better chance, but I think it will be a competitive game. Earlier this week, I picked it Bama 27, Ole Miss 20. That still looks about right.

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