Take Ole Miss with you to find out about the spread in Bama. to report
For college football bettors, there is no financial difference between Ole Miss, Alabama, and UConn, Vanderbilt.
In fact, it’s probably easier to find value in the latter.
The game in Tuscaloosa is possibly one of the biggest bets of college football season. More people, putting more money on a game, make the market more efficient, at least in theory.
However, barring a few masochists, even big bettors will struggle to free their eyes from the rebels and tide on Saturday.
Let’s break down the odds of each team and then try to decipher whether the bet line represents any value.
Ole Miss’ advantages over Alabama
As a play caller, Lane Kiffin reminds me of a boxer with a great finishing instinct.
Once he notices you flinch, wiggle, or show a mark on your face, he doesn’t wait for you to relax or take advice from your corner. He unleashes a series of thrusts and won’t stop unless you force him to.
Like last year, Ole Miss is fourth in offensive snaps per game. The Rebels are capable of operating at hyperspeed, especially with a fourth year quarterback in Matt Corral.
Alabama’s defense tired of damp Gainesville less than two weeks ago from seeing so many second-half runs in Florida.
The Tide Defense is smaller and faster than, for example, the 2011 team that played against LSU twice. But even a unit that relies more on defensive backs and has faster linebackers is vulnerable if it plays too many plays or the pace gets too fast. This is especially true when Kiffin sniffs out a weakness and exploits it again and again.
Speaking of weaknesses, Alabama’s offensive line has qualified so far. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), each starter in the unit has allowed six or seven quarterback presses. The team allowed 38 or nearly 10 per game.
PFF ranks Alabama 70th in run blocking and 73rd in pass blocking. That’s at least one reason why Bryce Young’s average target depth ranks 107th out of 141 quarterbacks with at least 50 drop-backs this season.
It is difficult to get game action with vertical route concepts if you come under pressure too often and too quickly.
Sam Williams is Ole Miss’ best pass rusher. He’s in second place in the SEC with four sacks (in just three games). Last season he recorded a sack and two tackles against Alabama.
Maryland Transfer linebacker Chance Campbell leads the team in tackles and also has eight quarterback rushes.
The rebel defenses are not designed to destroy the Tide offensive line every turn, as in Georgia, for example. But the unit is up to 57th in ESPN’s SP +, which is still pretty heavily based on “Priors” (statistics from last year).
The group is not deep, but they are rested after a goodbye.
Back to Kiffin and his offense. This year’s group is more balanced and less prone to turnover than the unit, which scored 48 points over 647 yards at Oxford last season.
Despite the bye week, 10 different Rebels players have run more than 10 yards. Jerrion Ealy finished eighth in the SEC in rushing last season. So far, Redshirt newbie Henry Parrish Jr. has played more snaps and is rushing for more yards per carry.
Both running backs can catch the ball too.
After throwing 14 interceptions last season, Corral has not thrown a pick in his last 151 pass attempts. He also ran for 4.8 yards and five touchdowns.
Don’t forget John Rhys Plumlee, who led the SEC as quarterback in 2019. Now he’s a receiver, tore off a 34-yard run, caught a few passes, and completed one.
Even top receiver Dontario Drummond has a touchdown run.
Given that Alabama struggled to maintain its run gap assignments by playing the option against Florida, the fact that the Ole Miss offensive is so diverse presents a challenge.
Alabama’s advantages over Ole Miss
According to advanced stats like EPA per snapshot and the PFF film scores, Ole Miss passport coverage was slightly better than run defense.
However, the Rebels faced a Tulane team that ran more than twice as thrown, a losing Austin Peay team, and a Louisville team in their first game after losing four of the top six pass catchers.
If Alabama can protect Bryce Young long enough – or if Young can use his legs to buy enough time – the tide will have some advantages in passing.
Jameson Williams isn’t a perfect recipient, but he’s great at getting behind your safety. John Metchie III seems due for a big game.
Tight end Jahleel Billingsly, who attracted the public ire of Nick Saban during fall camp, only played three pass-down snaps against Miami. That number rose to 12 against Mercer and 19 against Florida and Southern Miss.
Billingsly and freshman recipient JoJo Earle have played complementary roles so far but are capable of causing nightmares in the rebel defense.
Speaking of tight ends, is there any way Ole can cover Miss Cameron Latu and Billingsley at the same time?
The question is not whether the rebel defenses have gotten better. The question is, is it good enough to offer any meaningful resistance to the Alabama passing game. The players on both teams have changed a lot, but the Tide completed 28 of 32 passes for 417 yards last season.
It will be interesting to see if Saban chooses to use some ball control to keep the Ole Miss offensive on the sidelines.
Ole Miss used a certain bend, not breaking defensive concepts in order to prevent big games. But I’m intrigued to see if Kiffin pushes his defense onto the line of scrimmage and takes more risks knowing that Alabama’s offensive line isn’t as good as it was. When that happens, he will also challenge Alabama to throw Williams deep.
If Alabama can ever stop committing penalties for special teams, it should have a benefit for special teams too.
Williams has returned two of his three kickoffs for touchdowns. Earle averages 14.3 yards per punt return. Saban compared him to Jaylen Waddle. The Tide were also excellent cover kickoffs.
Alabama kicker Will Reichard has 20 out of 21 field goal attempts since the start of last season, including a perfect 7 out of 7 from 40+ yards.
Ole Miss Placekicker Caden Costa is a real freshman who hasn’t played a street game in college. Now he will play in front of 101,821 people, most of whom will verbally plead for failure.
Last year’s competitive game took place in Oxford. It was also Kiffin’s first season with Ole Miss. Saban and his staff have more information to prepare this time.
Kiffin has trained twice against Saban and Alabama. The other competition: 2009 Tennessee. Terrence Cody blocked two field goals, including one after the time ran out, to get the national championship season.
Kiffin is a good college coach. But Saban’s former assistants are 0:24 against him.
Betting analysis: Take Ole Miss +15
Achieving the offensive performance of the previous year would be almost impossible. Ole Miss and Alabama together scored 17 of 21 full possession games, including 15 touchdowns. The teams combined for 1,370 yards and 111 points.
The over / under dropped from 80 at Circa Sports early on Sunday afternoon to 77.5 on Monday afternoon. Alabama is a 15-point favorite at this point. So odds makers predict a score near 45-31 to use multiples of three and seven.
I think some overreacted to Alabama’s tight call to Florida. However, Ole Miss offers one of the best offensives in the nation with an operator in Kiffin who has proven he knows how to attack the tide.
In recent seasons, the Alabama defenses have been more than vulnerable in these areas.
The Tide will not be able to rely on Najee Harris and an outstanding offensive line as they did with Ole Miss in the second half of last season.
I think Ole Miss is the biggest challenge in the regular season schedule. I would do the Alabama -9.5 line. The tide deserves to be preferred, but I’ll take Ole Miss +15.
Christopher Smith specializes in obstructing college football and basketball. He founded Sports locksmith to share his analysis.