1999 was a dynamic time in world history. The price of gas was just $1.30 a gallon, the first Star Wars prequel enraged fans and the world readied for a Y2K meltdown.
It was also the last time any team, Purdue in this case, beat Nick Saban in three consecutive seasons.
Ole Miss has a chance to match that feat this weekend, as an afternoon matchup between Alabama and the Rebels headlines an exciting Saturday of SEC football. The slate features four conference games and seven matchups with at least one ranked opponent.
Out of that group, here are the top five SEC games you should be watching this weekend.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 19 Ole Miss
3:30 p.m. Saturday in Oxford, Ala. (CBS)
Flashback to 2013 and the Rebels had lost 10 straight games and 21 of 23 against the Alabama Crimson Tide. But since Hugh Freeze took over the program in 2012, the Rebels rebounded and are the only SEC team with a multiple-game winning streak over the vaunted Crimson Tide.
The game heads back to Oxford, Miss., as Alabama tries to get the tide rolling again. True freshman QB Jalen Hurts will make his first road start in front of 60,000 fans at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Hurts has been strong the first two weeks, accumulating 456 total yards and six total touchdowns in two games despite splitting time with Blake Barnett.
However, the Rebels hope to make another statement in front of a national CBS audience. Ole Miss was criticized heavily after letting its opener against Florida State slip away in the second half. Now, Freeze has the opportunity to be the first SEC coach to have a three-game winning streak over Nick Saban.
No. 20 LSU vs. Mississippi State
7 p.m. Saturday in Baton Rouge, La. (ESPN 2)
Every game of LSU’s season continues to be a must-watch. The Tigers will give Purdue transfer Danny Etling a shot at the quarterback position a week after he scored a pair of touchdowns in a win over Jacksonville State. It will be Etling’s first start since Sept. 27, 2014, when he led the Boilermakers to a two touchdown loss to Iowa.
On the other sideline, Nick Fitzgerald appeared to close the quarterback battle after throwing for 178 yards and two touchdowns and running for 195 yards in a win over South Carolina in the SEC opener. Mississippi State needs to pull a couple upsets to get back to a bowl game, and playing a first-time LSU starter is a prime opportunity.
Both teams have failed to play to their potential through the first two games and need a win for momentum.
No. 17 Texas A&M at Auburn
7 p.m. Saturday in Auburn, Ala. (ESPN)
Texas A&M is the higher-ranked team, but Auburn is simply the more desperate team this weekend. The Tigers recovered nicely against Arkansas State after dropping Week 1 against Clemson, but a win on Saturday could ease Gus Malzahn off the hot seat.
Auburn was wholly ineffective offensively against Clemson, but found its stride against Arkansas State. Quarterback Sean White threw for 244 yards and three touchdowns against a good Red Wolves team, while running backs Kamryn Pettaway and Kerryon Johnson showed what they could do.
But on the other sideline, Texas A&M hopes to join the SEC’s elite. The Aggies beat UCLA in the opener behind a strong performance from QB Trevor Knight and a fearsome defensive line led by Myles Garrett. Whichever team can establish themselves in the trenches should win this game.
No. 16 Georgia at Missouri
7:30 p.m. Saturday in Columbia, Mo. (SEC Network)
Georgia is reeling after a dreadful performance against Nicholls State and Missouri wants to take advantage. The Bulldogs offensive line failed to create running lanes for Nick Chubb against a subpar FCS team, as he failed to reach 100 rushing yards in a healthy start for the first time in his career.
The Tigers dropped 61 points on Eastern Michigan a week ago, the most points against an FBS opponent for Mizzou since 2011. Four different wide receivers have posted 100-yard receiving games in the first two games of the season. No Tiger receiver had posted one since Dec. 6, 2014.
This game pits two teams’ strengths against each other. Missouri averages 379.5 passing yards per game (No. 9 nationally), while the Bulldogs allow just 133.5 passing yards per game (No. 19). Something has to give on Saturday night.
Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech
12:30 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta (ACC Network Extra)
Even though neither of these teams will be competing for their respective conferences, the respective matchups should prove to be an outstanding chess match.
Georgia Tech is a difficult matchup thanks to its offense. Head coach Paul Johnson is one of the lead purveyors of the triple-option offense, which is a dying breed in college football. The offense uses the quarterback and a pair of running backs as potential runners to confuse opposing defenses and force them to bail on assignments.
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason is one of the nation’s great defensive strategists, but even he admitted preparing for this game takes a little extra time compared to more common offenses. The Commodores also need to worry about their own offense and whether they can count on RB Ralph Webb to replicate his 200-yard performance. Whichever team can stay most disciplined will win.