It was far from pretty, but Alabama ground Ole Miss into a fine powder to the tune of 25-0 in Tuscaloosa this evening.
Ole Miss was a popular "upset watch" kind of team for this one, and it was indeed a close one for a half. Alabama had only a 9-0 lead, and Ole Miss narrowly missed a fourth down conversion on the first drive of the game deep in Bama territory. That would end up being a theme, with the Rebels having three opportunities in Tide territory die on unsuccessful fourth down attempts.
Even if Hugh Freeze had elected to kick field goals all three times, it wouldn't have made a huge difference in the final score. Alabama's defense was dominant throughout, as the Rebels had only two drives go longer than 30 yards. Ole Miss's running game was especially impotent, as it gained just 1.8 yards per rush.
This one was a game where Alabama basically just ground out a tough win, which really is news in and of itself. The Tide's run game had only one decent run before halftime, and it only got things moving there as the Ole Miss defense wore out. A.J. McCarron was not sharp at all, seldom completing anything that far up the field and finishing with a dismal 5.6 yards per pass with an INT and no TDs. His longest pass of the night was for just 17 yards. The Rebel defense put up a valiant effort, but with no help from the offense, it was never going to hold forever.
Ole Miss is definitely a team on the upswing, but it is simply not ready to win a game like this one. It doesn't have a dominant line or a reliable big back to get tough yards between the tackles. Bo Wallace is perhaps the best bad quarterback I've ever seen, but he's still a kind of bad quarterback. You're just not winning a conference title with Bo Wallace. The defense also lacks playmakers who will go out and consistently make big plays. It was a great group effort, but if the offense isn't clicking, it's not going to make up for it.
As for Bama, it survived and advanced. It wasn't pretty and Nick Saban will have plenty to ride on his team about, but they got the W. It sure beats the alternative.