Sept. 23, 2013
THE GAME: The University of Alabama football team makes its 2013 Southeastern Conference home debut Saturday when it welcomes the Ole Miss Rebels to Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game marks the 61st meeting between the Crimson Tide and Rebels and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN with kickoff set for 5:30 p.m. (CDT). Brad Nessler will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Todd Blackledge at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Holly Rowe. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.
MAKING HISTORY: Alabama has laid claim to three of the last four BCS National Championships and now boasts 15 national championships in the program's history. The Tide won in 2009 and then went back-to-back in 2011 and 2012. The back-to-back titles are the first in the BCS era and the first since Nebraska went back to back in 1994-95. The Cornhuskers are also the last team to win three out of four national titles. Nebraska won consensus titles in 1994 and 1995 and shared the 1997 championship with Michigan. The last team to win three of four consensus national championships was Notre Dame who captured the 1946, 1947 and 1949 titles. Minnesota is the last team to win three straight national championships (1934-36) with only the 1936 title coming in the era of the Associated Press college football poll. The Crimson Tide won three titles in five years from 1961 to 1965.
RANKINGS: Alabama enters week five of the 2013 season ranked first in the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches polls, while Ole Miss stands at No. 21 in both polls.
OLE MISS: Ole Miss is under the direction of second-year head coach Hugh Freeze and enters Saturday's game with a 3-0 overall record and a 1-0 mark in Southeastern Conference play. The Rebels edged out Vanderbilt, 39-35, in their season opener before posting out-of-conference wins against Southeast Missouri and Texas. Quarterback Bo Wallace has accumulated 648 yards passing and 120 yards rushing, while accounting for seven touchdowns (four passing, three rushing). Jeff Scott has been Ole Miss' top rusher thus far, averaging 110.0 yards per game. Three receivers are currently averaging 50-plus yards per game, led by Evan Engram, who has 11 receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
SERIES HISTORY: Saturday's game marks the 61st meeting between the Crimson Tide and Rebels. Alabama has won nine straight in the series (three of which were vacated for the 2005-07 seasons), outscoring Ole Miss 248-118 in those contests.
NEXT GAME: Alabama remains at home, hosting Georgia State at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 5, for Homecoming. The Crimson Tide and Panthers will be meeting for the second time in program history.
COACH TO CURE MD: Alabama will be taking part in the AFCA's sixth annual Coach to Cure MD effort with its game against Ole Miss on September 28. More than 110 FBS schools will be wearing a Coach to Cure MD patch to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research, which is the most common fatal genetic disorder among boys worldwide.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama's success on the field over the past six seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has coincided with the Crimson Tide's success in the classroom. The 2013 squad features 13 players that already have degrees in hand as the 2013 season begins (see chart below). That number is equal to Ole Miss for the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2013. Over the past five seasons (2008-12) Alabama has seen 74 players compete for the Crimson Tide after already having graduated.
LEADING THE WAY TO THE NFL: Alabama has had more draft picks over the last four years (29), three years (22) and two years (17) than any school in the country. In 2013, the Crimson Tide had three players taken back-to-back-to-back in the first round for the first time in the history of the draft with Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker going at No. 9, 10 and 11. The Tide has had 13 players drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft over the last four years and 11 first-round selections in the last three years. Only Miami had more first round picks during a 3 or 4-year span (UM had 19 from 2001-04 and 15 from 2002-04 in the modern draft era). Alabama had nine total draft picks in 2013, which was a new school record in the seven-round draft (10 in 1945, but that was 30 rounds). The SEC had a record 63 selections, more than double the next conference (ACC with 31).
NO. 1 FOR SIX STRAIGHT YEARS: The 2013 season marks the sixth straight year for the Crimson Tide to make an appearance at No. 1. The Tide is just the second team in the era of the AP poll to appear at No. 1 for five years, much less six. Alabama's streak began in 2008 and has seen the Crimson Tide finish first in the final AP in three of the past five years. Miami (Fla.) holds the record for consecutive seasons with at least one week at No. 1 with seven, appearing each year from 1986-92.
SUCCESS ON THE ROAD: As successful as Alabama has been at Bryant-Denny Stadium in the Saban era, the Crimson Tide has been almost as effective away from home. Alabama holds a 16-game winning streak away from Bryant-Denny Stadium, which is the longest active streak in the FBS. The 16-game streak includes both true road games and neutral-site games and dates back to a 24-21 loss at LSU on Nov. 6, 2010. The streak also includes victories at Texas A&M. over Virginia Tech (Atlanta), Notre Dame (Miami Gardens), LSU (Baton Rouge and New Orleans), Michigan (Dallas), at Penn State, at Florida, at Arkansas and at Auburn. The current streak is the second-longest of its kind in Alabama history behind a 19-game streak that began on Sept. 24, 1977, and ended on Nov. 1, 1980. Since 2008, the Crimson Tide is 31-4 (.886) away from Bryant-Denny Stadium, including a 4-1 record in bowl games. During that time, Alabama is 33-3 at Bryant-Denny Stadium (.917).
STREAKING: Alabama enters the Ole Miss contest tied for the third-longest winning streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision at seven games. Ohio State currently has the longest streak at 16 games with Stanford second with 11 straight wins. Baylor and Northwestern are tied with the Crimson Tide with seven consecutive victories. Louisville follows with six and five teams have won five straight.
FRESHMAN CONTRIBUTIONS: Alabama has needed contributions from 28 first- or second-year players early in the 2013 season. The Crimson Tide has played 11 true freshman with tight end O.J. Howard, cornerback Eddie Jackson and long snapper Cole Mazza earning starts. Six more redshirt freshman have earned playing time, including Ryan Anderson, Chris Black, Brandon Greene, Adam Griffith, Alphonse Taylor and Dalvin Tomlinson. The Tide has also played 10 true sophomores with Amari Cooper, Geno Smith and T.J. Yeldon having started games during their careers. Junior-college transfer Leon Brown has also seen time as a backup at right tackle. Other true freshmen seeing playing time include, DE Jonathan Allen, WR Raheem Falkins, LB Reuben Foster, RB Derrick Henry, DL A'Shawn Robinson, CB Maurice Smith, RB Altee Tenpenny and LB Tim Williams.
NFL SUNDAY: Several former Alabama players had impressive performances this past Sunday in the National Football League. In his first action with his new team, the Indianapolis Colts, Trent Richardson scored a touchdown on his first carry and finished with 35 yards on 13 carries in a win over San Francisco. Julio Jones caught nine passes for 115 yards and currently leads the NFL in receiving yards (373) and is tied for the lead receptions (27). On the defensive side of the football, Mark Barron made 11 tackles with an interceptions, half of a sack, a quarterback hurry and a pass defense. Robert Lester made his first start at safety for the Carolina Panthers and nabbed his first interception while making five tackles and recovering a fumble. The Eagles DeMeco Ryans added seven tackles and Courtney Upshaw had a sack for the Ravens.
ALABAMA HAS MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Dating back to the start of the 2008 season, Alabama has won 64 games, which is the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed by a perfect 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record in 2011. Alabama finished 13-1 in 2012 and has won three games thus far in 2013.
Christion Jones NAMED NATIONAL AND SEC PLAYER OF WEEK: Junior wide receiver and return specialist Christion Jones was selected as the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week as well as the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week following his performance against Virginia Tech on Aug. 31. Jones totaled a career- and game-high 256 all-purpose yards with 47 yards on two receptions, 100 yards on four punt returns and 109 yards on two kickoff returns. He also added three touchdowns - one on punt return, one of kickoff return and one receiving.
BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 24-7 against the Associated Press top 25, including a 15-4 mark against AP top-10 teams over the past six seasons. The Crimson Tide is 1-0 thus far this year, beating No. 6 Texas A&M, 49-42, in College Station. Alabama went 5-1 against the AP top 25 in 2012, with victories over No. 8 Michigan, No. 13 Mississippi State, No. 6 LSU, No. 3 Georgia and No. 1 Notre Dame, plus a loss to No. 15 Texas A&M. The Tide held a 4-1 mark vs. top 25 teams in 2011 and went 5-3 against the AP top 25 in 2010. Eleven of the last 13 matchups have gone in favor of the Tide, with one loss coming in a 9-6 overtime defeat to LSU on Nov. 5, 2011, and a 29-24 loss to Texas A&M in 2012.
NON-OFFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS IN SEASON OPENER: Alabama recorded three non-offensive touchdowns in its season opener against Virginia Tech, marking the first time the Crimson Tide has done so in a game since Sept. 30, 1995, against Georgia. The Tide added another interception return for a score at Texas A&M on a 73-yard return from Vinnie Sunseri. Against Virginia Tech, Christion Jones got the Tide on the board first with a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown and then went 94 yards on a kickoff return in the second quarter. Sunseri scored against the Hokies with a 38-yard interception return.
NON-OFFENSIVE TDs IN THE SABAN ERA: Sophomore linebacker Dillon Lee's 15-yard blocked punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter marked the 33rd non-offensive touchdown of the Nick Saban era. Since Saban took over in 2007, the Crimson Tide has garnered 14 interception returns, eight punt returns, five kickoff returns, three fumble returns and three blocked punt returns for a touchdown.
WINNING TURNOVER BATTLE RESULTS IN WINS: Alabama has proven tough to beat when winning the turnover battle since the start of the 2008 season. The Crimson Tide is 42-0 in that time when the Tide has fewer turnovers than its opponents. Alabama is 2-0 in 2013 and was 9-0 in 2012, 8-0 in 2011, 6-0 in 2010, 9-0 in 2009 and 8-0 in 2008. The Tide is 51-2 in that same time frame when winning or tied in turnovers. UA lost the 2011 LSU game at home when both teams had two turnovers and the 2010 game at South Carolina with one turnover apiece. Alabama is 14-5 when losing the turnover battle since 2008.