By Parrish Alford
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Turns out, just because Texas A&M did it doesn’t mean that everybody else will.
The Alabama defense, appearing vulnerable after giving up 628 yards and 42 points to the Aggies two weeks ago, led the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide to a 25-0 win over No. 21 Ole Miss before 101,821 fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night.
Earlier in the week Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace predicted the Rebels (3-1, 1-1 SEC) would score against Alabama (4-0, 2-0). He went on to add he believes his team will score every time out.
“That was something that maybe I shouldn’t have said, but it was twisted around and things, and that wasn’t the story,” Wallace said. “That was something created by somebody who wanted to create something to have a story.”
The Crimson Tide went into the game giving up 19.3 points on average, fourth in the SEC.
It was the first time the Rebels were shut out since losing 34-0 at Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1998. That was the Razorbacks’ first season under head coach Houston Nutt, who would later coach Ole Miss for four seasons.
Ole Miss likely would have kept its scoring streak alive had Rebels coach Hugh Freeze opted for field goals.
He chose to go for the first down on the game’s opening drive with a fourth-and-1 from the Alabama 29, but Laquon Treadwell’s carry on an end-around was spotted short.
“Playing the No. 1 team at their place I just felt like, ‘Let’s get the first down.’ We felt like we were going to need touchdowns to win it,” he said. “Hindsight, if we’d have kicked that one maybe we could have kicked some more later on and stayed in reach.”
Red zone trouble
The Rebels reached the Alabama 8 in the latter stages of the third quarter, the 13 early in the fourth after a Cody Prewitt interception, but were turned away each time.
Freeze said he can’t remember a game at any level of his career in which is offense failed to score.
“I don’t remember one, to be candid,” he said.
Hoping to establish a ground game, the Rebels were held to 46 yards on 25 carries, 1.8 yards per attempts.
The Rebels began the night averaging 250 rushing yards, second in the league.
An inspired defensive effort by Ole Miss in the first half left Alabama in field goal situations. Crimson Tide kicker Cade Foster responded with kicks of 28, 53 and 42 yards for a 9-0 lead at the break.
Alabama also struggled to run until T.J. Yeldon got to the second level of the Ole Miss defense. Yeldon put a spin move on Prewitt on his way to a 68-yard touchdown run. That gave the Tide (4-0, 2-0) a 16-0 lead with 14 minutes, 8 seconds left in the third.
Wallace was sacked in the end zone for a safety late in the fourth and 11 seconds later, Alabama’s Kenyan Drake ran 50 yards for a touchdown, capping the scoring with 5:32 to play. The Tide finished with 254 rushing yards after getting only 36 on 15 attempts in the first half.
“We really felt good about our preparation, that we had a shot to get this thing deep into the game and be in it. They totally took it to us,” Freeze said.