By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – It should come as no surprise to the most casual of college football fans that Ole Miss is not expected to defeat No. 2 Alabama on Saturday.
But what may be surprising is the relative ease with which odds-makers believe Alabama will win.
Those whose careers depend on projecting the competitiveness of football games have the Crimson Tide favored by almost four touchdowns – 25.5 points.
An Ole Miss-Alabama game hasn’t been decided by that big of a margin since the Crimson Tide won 37-0 in 1996 in Tuscaloosa.
“For us, almost … every week it’s like that. But we like that challenge of being the underdog and just playing, going out and showing everybody what we can do,” Ole Miss quarterback Randall Mackey said.
The reason for the hefty edge for the Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC) is its defense, which ranks in the top three nationally in every major category. Alabama leads the nation in rushing defense (39.83 ypg) and scoring defense (7.0 ppg).
Ole Miss (2-3, 0-2 SEC) struggled in all phases offensively before its 38-28 win at Fresno State on Oct. 1.
Before the California trip, the Rebels had not rushed for 100 yards or reached 240 total yards against an FBS level opponent.
Things got better in Mackey’s first start. The Rebels rushed for 216 yards and had 430 yards of total offense.
In spite of the improvement, players are not surprised to find how few people give them a chance to compete.
“We expect it. It’s nothing new. We can’t control what other people speak. We just control what we do. All I can say is just try to prove them wrong and come back to a celebrated locker room,” wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan said.