Saturday will be meeting No. 63 between Alabama and Ole Miss, dating back to 1894. As fierce as the rivalry can be, it is the most lopsided in SEC history. The Crimson Tide lead the series 47-10-2, and Ole Miss has never won back-to-back games.
Ole Miss has a chance to break that trend on Saturday, but in order to do so, the Rebels will have to win in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 1988.
Here are three keys to victory for Ole Miss:
1. Quarterback Chad Kelly
Ole Miss couldn’t have asked for much more from Jim Kelly’s nephew, who completed over 72 percent of his passes for 557 yards and six touchdowns in the first two games.
Alabama is obviously Kelly’s biggest test to date, but the Crimson Tide are expected to start three freshmen in the secondary in dime packages. Kelly will have to take advantage of that on passing downs in order for Ole Miss to win.
His teammates will also have to play much better around him than his uncle’s team did in the big game. Sorry Buffalo Bills fans, I couldn’t resist.
2. The Ole Miss offensive tackles
The two teammates who Kelly will need the most help from are his offensive tackles, Fahn Cooper and Sean Rawlings. Without Laremy Tunsil, who is still being withheld from games due to an NCAA investigation, Cooper has moved to left tackle and the freshman Rawlings has started at right tackle.
Alabama has one of the best defensive lines in the nation, and in order for Kelly to take advantage of the inexperienced Alabama secondary in dime packages, he will need to have time to find a receiver.
3. Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche
The defensive key to the game for Ole Miss is containing Alabama running back Derrick Henry, who is one of the best rushers in the country. In order to slow him down, Nkemdiche will have to dominate at the line of scrimmage and take on double teams so linebackers such as C.J. Johnson and Denzel Nkemdiche can make plays.
If the Rebels are able to slow down Henry, then Alabama quarterback Jake Coker will be forced into third-and-longs against a secondary that already has three interceptions returned for touchdowns this season.