Oct. 16, 2008
TUCSALOOSA, Ala. – Both teams are expecting a physical football game this Saturday when No. 2 Alabama hosts Mississippi in a Southeastern Conference game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
History is on their side.
The last three games between the Tide and Rebels have been decided by nine total points. Alabama pulled out a 27-24 win in Oxford last season after a 41-yard completion by the Rebels was overturned giving the Tide possession in the final seconds. In 2006, John Parker Wilson’s pass to Le’Ron McClain gave the Tide a 26-23 overtime victory. The Crimson Tide needed Jamie Christensen’s 47-yard field goal on the last play of the game to beat the Rebels in 2005.
“(Ole Miss) plays physical,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “They are very good up front with the offensive line. They’ve got four or five starters back. The left tackle (Michael Oher) is an All-American player and a very good player and arguably one of the best offensive linemen in the country and they play very hard and physical on defense, but I’ve never known them not to play that way.”
Wilson and UA left guard Mike Johnson have seen first-hand how physical this series has been.
“Their whole defense, their safeties and linebackers, are good,” Wilson said. “I really remember Patrick Willis from my sophomore year. They have a good defense. They showed that against Florida. We have to come ready to play.”
“They are pretty big guys,” Johnson added. “Their defense likes to run a lot of penetration up the middle. They expect their tackles to hold down the front and they do a really good of doing that. They let their linebackers roam and make plays. They have two pretty good guys coming off the edge, so this is a pretty big task for us this week.”
Defense is nothing new to the Alabama-Mississippi series, which has featured defensive minded coaches Paul Bryant, Johnny Vaught and Gene Stallings to name a few.
The Tide and Rebels first met on Oct. 27, 1894, with the Rebels picking up a 6-0 win in Jackson. The Mississippi series is the second-longest running series in the Tide record book, despite the teams playing just 55 times. The Crimson Tide leads the all-time series 44-9-2.
After suffering a 6-0 loss to the Rebels in the initial meeting in the series, the Crimson Tide went 21-1-2 in the next 24 games from 1899-1967 to take a commanding series lead. The streak began with a 7-5 win over the Rebels in 1899. In 12 games from 1901-28, Alabama won with defense, holding Mississippi to 25 total points and recording 10 shutouts. The Crimson Tide defense pitched seven straight shutouts from 1915-28, outscoring the Rebels, 337-0.
Alabama’s first SEC football game was played against Mississippi on Oct. 7, 1933, at Birmingham’s Legion Field. The two teams battled to a scoreless tie.
Alabama and Ole Miss did not play a regular season game from 1945-65. The two teams did meet in the Jan. 1, 1964, Sugar Bowl as Alabama defeated Ole Miss 12-7 in New Orleans in another defensive affair. Tim Davis booted four field goals on a snowy New Year’s Day for the win.
A game that had little defense took place on Nov. 4, 1969 when Scott Hunter led the Crimson Tide to a 33-32 win over Archie Manning and the Rebels at Legion Field. The two quarterbacks threw for more than 700 yards and the two offenses combined for almost 1,100 total yards in the first prime-time telecast of a college football game. The ABC audience was left breathless after the teams traded leads five times before George Ranager’s game-winning TD catch put the Tide ahead to stay in the final minutes.
Since 1977, Alabama has won 20 of the last 23 meetings with Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide and Mississippi became permanent opponents in 1992 when the SEC split into two divisions. The 2008 season will mark the 17th consecutive season the Tide and Rebels have played one another. Prior to 1992, Alabama and Mississippi played only 10 times in a 20-year period.
SERIES RECORD BY SITES: Alabama and Mississippi have played in nine different cities, with the majority of the games taking place in Tuscaloosa. In addition to the UA campus, the Tide and Rebels have also played in three other Alabama cities, including Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery. The Crimson Tide and Rebels have played in four different Mississippi cities, including Columbus, Greenville, Jackson and Oxford. Alabama and Mississippi also played in the Jan. 1, 1964, Sugar Bowl at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. Alabama owns a 31-1-1 series lead in games played in the state of Alabama. The Crimson Tide is 22-1 in games played in Tuscaloosa, including an eight-game winning streak. Mississippi’s lone win in Tuscaloosa came on Oct. 8, 1988, with a 22-12 victory. Alabama is 7-0-1 against Mississippi in Birmingham and owns a 1-0 record in Mobile and a 2-0 mark in Montgomery. The Tide is 13-8-1 against the Rebels in games played in the state of Mississippi, including a 5-3 mark in Oxford and a 6-4-1 ledger in Jackson. Alabama is 1-0 against Mississippi in Columbus and 0-1 in Greeneville.
MISSISSIPPI NATIVES: The Alabama roster contains six players from the state of Mississippi, including running back Terry Grant (Lumberton), running back Jeramie Griffin (Batesville), defensive back Alonzo Lawrence (Lucedale), receiver Mike McCoy (Rankin), defensive end Milton Talbert (Hattiesburg) and defensive back Justin Woodall (Oxford).
ALABAMA NATIVES: The Mississippi football roster lists four players from the state of Alabama, including Ben Meadows (Birmingham), Joshua Tatum (Marbury), Vincent Moss (Munford) and Justin Sanders (New Market).
SABAN VS. REBELS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban owns a 5-1 record in his career against Mississippi. He is 1-0 at Alabama following last year’s 27-24 win in Oxford. Saban also posted a 4-1 record against the Rebels while at LSU from 2000-04. His lone loss to the Rebels came on Oct. 27, 2001, as Mississippi posted a 35-24 win in Baton Rouge.
NUTT VS. TIDE: Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt is 5-5 in his head coaching career at Alabama, with all 10 decisions coming while he was the head coach at Arkansas from 1998-2007. Nutt coached teams are 1-4 against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
TIDE-REBELS ON TV: Alabama and Ole Miss will play the 21st televised game in series history. The Crimson Tide owns a 16-4 record in the previous 20 TV games. The 2008 season will mark the fifth time CBS Sports has televised the Alabama-Mississippi game. The network also aired the Crimson Tide and Rebels in 1999, 2001, 2005 and 2006. Alabama is 4-0 against Mississippi on CBS.