As Ole Miss players celebrate their status as Alabama state champs, a little compare and contrast here from the two wins, the first time in history for the Rebels to win at both of Alabama’s SEC teams in the season season.
In the Rebels’ 43-37 win in Tuscaloosa Alabama gained 503 yards on 100 plays.
The Crimson Tide rushed for 215 yards. Seventy-two of that came in the fourth quarter when the Rebels were gassed. Ole Miss actually did a better job defending Alabama running back Derrick Henry than the numbers indicate.
Adding the fatigue effect is the fact that Alabama recovered a key on-side kick late in the fourth quarter and went on to punch in a touchdown with little resistance from the Rebels.
At the end of the day the numbers weren’t good on defense, but the performance within the game wasn’t bad.
Alabama was 32-for-58 passing and threw three interceptions. The dialogue from Tide fans to this day is about the five turnovers.
Well, a couple of those interceptions were birthed with pressure from the Ole Miss defensive line.
When you turn the ball over once or twice that’s misfortune. When you turn it over five someone’s doing something to you.
It helped Ole Miss that the game came at a time that Alabama was undecided at quarterback. Cooper Bateman hasn’t played much since that game.
The Tide has settled on Jake Coker, who, by the way, contributed well to its 215 rushing yards with several scrambles when he couldn’t find anyone to throw to.
The most interesting stat from both games is third downs. Alabama was 11-for-20. That’s how it got to 100 plays. Ole Miss couldn’t get off the field.
Auburn had been leading the SEC in third down conversions and was just 2-for-15 against Ole Miss.
The Rebels also did a good job of run defense at Auburn but with better final results. Auburn finished with 125 rushing yards, about 60 below its average.
Auburn’s backup running back, Jovon Robinson, had a nice day, but most of his success came later in the game. Ole Miss did a number on Auburn’s primary running back, Peyton Barber, who had just 17 yards on eight carries.
Ole Miss didn’t force the turnovers against Auburn that it did against Alabama or would have gained three-touchdown separation like it did in Tuscaloosa.
The Rebels weren’t just OK on offense in both games.
Chad Kelly didn’t have a turnover against Alabama, but he wasn’t very accurate in the first half.
That changed in the second when was 12-for-19 passing for 305 yards and three scores.
Against Auburn Kelly was 33-for-51 for 381 yards and two scores but also threw two interceptions. One of them was his fault, the other wasn’t, but at the end of the day, Kelly hasn’t played turnover-free since Alabama and has a streak of three multiple-pick games going.
Ole Miss rushed for 97 yards at Alabama without Laremy Tunsil. With him, the Rebels rushed for 156 yards at Auburn.
The biggest factors here are turnovers and third downs. Ole Miss was on the plus side of turnovers at Alabama and on third downs at Auburn.