Fifth in a series.
Well, what better way to break into SEC play than with the national champion on the road.
That will be the official “welcome to the league” game for new Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze as the Rebels travel to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 29 after four straight non-conference games.
Ole Miss began the Alabama game like a ball of fire last year at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, moving 72 yards in five plays, positive gains each time.
The third play was a 59-yard pass-and-run from Randall Mackey to Nick Brassell. As talented is Brassell is, Alabama had enough speed to catch him from behind and keep him from getting into the end zone.
He did get the ball to the 2, however, and two plays later – the second of two-straight 1-yard runs – Jeff Scott scored, and the Rebels led 7-0.
Alabama went on to score 52 unanswered points in the 52-7 win.
It was still a respectable game at halftime, the Rebels down just 17-7. But Alabama scored 28 third-quarter points, and set in motion a series of games in which the Rebels couldn’t quite answer the bell after halftime. In trying to address that problem Houston Nutt had his players leave the locker room early at Auburn a couple of weeks later and go through a second round of warm-ups.
Looking ahead, there’s no reason to think the SEC losing streak will not reach 15 games here.
Most programs in the SEC are not at the level of Alabama, certainly not a team that went winless in the league last year and is transitioning with a new head coach.
Alabama returns five starters on offense, four on defense. Each of its 13 starters lost were either drafted or signed NFL free agent contracts.
Among the five starters back on offense is Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones, who played left tackle last year but has moved to center. Defensive end Jesse Williams has moved inside to nose tackle.
In a glimpse of why the program remains consistent, eight members of a top-ranked recruiting class enrolled early and participated in spring drills. One of them, running back T.J. Yeldon, was named Dixie Howell MVP in the spring game after accounting for 179 all-purpose yards. Yeldon caught five passes for 91 yards and a touchdown and rushed 16 times for 88 yards.
His White team defeated the Crimson 24-15.