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Two Teams, One Title Contender: Alabama 22, Ole Miss 3

Talk SEC football in our Weekend Open Thread on the late games.

It's time for Ole Miss fans to give up on the dreams of heading to Atlanta, at least for the SEC Championship Game. At this point, even a berth in the game formerly known as the Peach Bowl looks doubtful.

It's not that the Rebels lost to Alabama -- I think most nonpartisan observers of this game expected that. It's that they looked so thoroughly lost doing it, particularly on offense. The Ole Miss offense didn't break 200 yards

Critical to the collapse of the title hopes for Ole Miss is the demolition of any notion that its star QB would regain the form he had at the close of the 2008, at least in time to change this season's trajectory. By halftime Saturday, Snead was 2-of-12 for 14 yards and 2 INTs. He finished the day 11-of-35 with 140 yards and 4 INTs. That makes him 18-of-56 for 247 yards, a score and four picks against his last two SEC opponents not named Vanderbilt. That's a 60.80 passer rating, in case you were wondering -- worse than Jonathan Crompton's mark against Florida and Auburn (101.88). Not that his offensive line or running game (19 rushes, 28 yards for non-Snead runners) gave him much help.

But if Ole Miss doesn't win now, when? Will Jevan Snead come back after this season? And even if he does, does it really matter given his performance today?

Probably not. Alabama looks to be settling into the kind of groove that fans have waited for since Gene Stallings left after the 1996 season, and the last program Nick Saban built -- LSU -- probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Combine those with the potential re-emergence of Auburn and Bobby Petrino's rebuilding project in Arkansas, and it's not hard to think that Ole Miss will once again have trouble winning anything more than the state title.

That said, Alabama has its own problems to deal with, even after essentially knocking one of its competitors out of the race for the SEC West and seeing another (Auburn) suffer an unexpected blow. The Tide's offense seemed to regress Saturday, or at least become human again; its first three drives into the red zone produced field goals, as did two of its final three -- the other was a fumble. That's seven possessions that made it inside the 20, with one TD to show for it.

That's enough to defeat a team like Ole Miss, which was obviously not prepared to be a legitimate candidate for the SEC title. Florida and perhaps LSU will not be so generous.