College Football Picks: Ole Miss vs. Alabama

Steve Merril - Steve@prosportsinfo.com

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 6:56 PM GMT

Mississippi will make the trip to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama on Saturday night. This game will be televised on ESPN with a 6:30 pm ET kickoff.

The current pointspread on this game has Alabama listed as -15.5 home favorites with a posted total ranging mainly from 55.5 to 56.5 at different sportsbooks

#1 Alabama comes into this game at 3-0 SU and 1-2 ATS with their lone spread cover being undeserved when they beat Virginia Tech 35-10 despite getting out-gained in that game. The Crimson Tide dominated Texas A&M in their second game even though they only won by 7 points (49-42) on the scoreboard. Last week, Alabama beat Colorado State 31-6, but that was not an impressive win by any stretch of the imagination. 

The Crimson Tide only had 16 first downs while allowing 13 first downs to Colorado State. Alabama had just 338 yards of total offense with only 66 of those yards coming on the ground. That’s a troubling performance, especially against an inferior opponent from a weaker conference. Alabama’s offense has really struggled in two of their three games this season and right now, they just can’t be laying over two touchdowns into a competent SEC opponent

Alabama is still the best team in college football, but there are some concerns with the way they’ve played, especially their offense. They haven’t been able to run the football with consistency and they are only averaging 132 rushing yards per game. To compare, Mississippi is running for 240 yards per game. Alabama has scored 5 of their 16 touchdowns this season on defense or special teams.

#21 Mississippi also comes into this game at 3-0, but the Rebels are 2-1 ATS with their failed spread cover coming as whopping 49.5-point favorites over FCS SE Missouri State. Mississippi already owns a conference win as they beat Vanderbilt in their season opener 39-35 and they waxed Texas 44-23 in Austin in their last game. That came two weeks ago so the Rebels have had an extra week to prepare for Alabama which is a nice luxury to have. 

The Rebels are in their second season under head coach Hugh Freeze, and with 19 returning starters, the Rebels were pegged to improve off their 7-6 record of a season ago. Mississippi wasn’t embarrassed at Alabama last season as they only lost that game 33-14. The Rebels are better this year, and one could make the argument that Alabama is not the same dominant team of 2012.

In last year’s game, Mississippi’s defense held the Crimson Tide to a season-low 305 yards of offense. The Rebels gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown and QB’s Bo Wallace and Randall Mackey combined to throw 3 interceptions. But that was their first conference road game while running Freeze’s new system against the best team in college football; mistakes and miscues were bound to happen. 

Mississippi has played well on the road as an underdog under Freeze. The Rebels are 4-1 ATS when catching points away from home. Overall, Mississippi is 5-2 ATS as underdog under the guidance and leadership of Freeze. In conference games last season, the Rebels hung tough versus Alabama and they only lost by 3 points (30-27) to Texas A&M and lost by 6 points (41-35) at LSU.

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This team will not be in awe against Alabama, and if things fall into place just right, it’s not out of the question for Mississippi to pull the major shocker and win this game outright. The Rebels are well coached and they’ve proven they can play with the upper echelon teams of the SEC. We think this line is a couple of points too high, so we’ll take those generous points and play Mississippi over Alabama on Saturday night for our College Football Picks.

Free College Football Picks: #145 Play MISSISSIPPI +15.5.