To put it bluntly, Alabama looks worse now than they have since the 2010 season with Greg McElroy under center. A loss against LSU takes the Tide out of the College Football Playoff hunt earlier than most fans can remember. With this many things going bad, Alabama needs a hard pivot heading into this week.
The bad news is that Alabama will face Ole Miss, a familiar foe with a great offensive mind in charge. This is a road game for the Tide, which has been a sticking point so far this year. Alabama is only playing for pride and a better bowl game, but can the Tide turn things around against the Rebels?
Let’s break down key facets of this game and pick who will win this SEC West showdown.
Saturday, November 12, 2022 – 03:30 PM EST at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Alabama’s Struggles on The Road
So far this year, Alabama has been abysmal on the road. Both losses have been to SEC road teams, and a third poor performance was in Austin against the Longhorns. In these games, the weak points have varied.
Against Texas, Alabama could not stay in a rhythm on offense. It took a heroic final drive from Bryce Young to save the Tide. Against Tennessee, defense and special teams were what ruined Alabama’s day. The Vols set SEC records against Alabama, and Young could not keep up.
In the last loss, the offense could not keep up for the first three quarters. It took some more heroics by Young to give Alabama the lead, but the defense could not stop the Tigers. In overtime, LSU ran through Alabama like a hot knife through butter.
The bad news is that every facet of the Tide has looked bad at some point. The good news is that all facets have also looked solid at some point. So, which version of Alabama will we see?
Kiffin’s History vs. Saban
Lane Kiffin would be the first to tell you that Nick Saban revived his career. Kiffin was the laughingstock of college football after being left on the Tarmac by the USC Trojans. Kiffin revitalized the Alabama offense, but that opportunity gave Kiffin the stamp of approval necessary to become a head coach again.
Since taking the job at Ole Miss, Kiffin has yet to beat Saban. He got very close when playing at home in 2020, and he famously told fans to get the popcorn ready before being pummeled last year. Still, this relationship goes beyond two games.
Saban and Kiffin had many spats on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa, and Kiffin always comments on Saban now that he is a head coach again. He only speaks praise, but this relationship is complex.
Keys for Each Team
A hot start for the Rebels will give the young team confidence. Also, expect Jaxson Dart to make some key plays in the red zone and on third down. Kiffin will have some creative calls for this game, and he will empty his bag of tricks as he tries to give Saban his third loss of the season.
For Alabama, the offense needs to run the ball more consistently. Alabama has multiple backs who are capable of leading the charge, but the team refuses to commit to the running game. Also, the defense must force turnovers. This has been a weak point all year, and it has to change.
While an SEC title is out of the cards, can Alabama still bounce back and cover this spread? Let’s make our picks.
The Betting Picks
I don’t expect Alabama to lose a third game this year, but I don’t have them covering the spread. This road environment can get hostile, and Alabama will get off to a slow start. It will take some magic from Bryce Young to turn things around. I think he delivers enough to win, but this won’t be a cover.
The spread should be in the single digits in my opinion, so you get great value on the Rebels.
In terms of the points total, I like the over simply because either offense has the potential to be explosive. If this turns into a shootout, the over will be hit by the start of the fourth quarter. If only one offense performs well, you can still hit the over.
NCAAF Pick: Ole Miss +12 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
NCAAF Pick: Over 63.5 (-110) at PointsBet