Ole Miss - Alabama Preview

The good news for the TV networks and the SEC is that early season concerns about the disappointing West Division haven’t yet hit #2 Alabama and #15 Mississippi. They square off in the most exciting college football matchup of the weekend Saturday night on ESPN. The bad news is that…if both look bad against each other…then the media is ready to pile on!

*Previously #6 Auburn hasn’t even looked like a top 25 team yet. They were out-statted by Louisville (who then lost to Houston), and were out-statted as 40-point favorites vs. Jacksonville State!

*Supposedly “up and coming” Arkansas was humiliated in a loss to Toledo. Everybody’s “darkhorse” couldn’t win at home against a team from the MAC!

And, that’s after Alabama lost straight up on an neutral field to Ohio State last year to end SEC play…after Ole Miss was slaughtered by TCU 42-3 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Should we even mention that LSU didn’t impress in its bowl game vs. Notre Dame last year. Is the whole division slowly falling apart?!

Yes, the SEC West is still a power. But, it’s obviously heading in the wrong direction at the moment. The winner of Alabama-Ole Miss hopes to rectify that with a strong 2015 campaign. Let’s run JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats to see how this rematch from last year’s Ole Miss upset may play out…

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Ole Miss: 2-0 (in slaughters of Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State)

Alabama: 2-0 (vs. Wisconsin and Middle Tennessee)

Good stuff so far. Though, Alabama didn’t cover in its comfortable win over Middle Tennessee. Ole Miss has an approach that’s well-suited to running up the score on outmanned opponents. You have to keep that in mind when trying to evaluate what’s going to happen when they’re not playing cupcakes.

2014 Yards-Per-Play

Ole Miss: 9.3 on offense, 4.2 on defense

Alabama: 7.0 on offense, 4.1 on defense

For the most part…the stats should probably be thrown out in terms of the SEC West picture. No credit for bullying small Tennessee schools! Alabama did have legitimately strong stats vs. Wisconsin though. There’s no doubt yet that they deserve a top five ranking. It’s great that both of these teams will be tested in September. That will help us pick games involving these teams over the next two months.

2014 Turnover Differential

Ole Miss: +1

Alabama: +3

As we’ve talked about in recent seasons, Alabama is much more of a “control and contain” defense these days instead of one that forces a lot of turnovers. That’s part of what makes them vulnerable to upset. And, they actually DID get a defensive TD in this matchup last year and were still upset! Frankly, +1 for Ole Miss is bad after two games considering their opponents. Probably the single biggest factor determining the outcome of this game is whether or not new Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly has turnover issues. Alabama will be safe and conservative. The result swings on Kelly’s poise (or lack thereof).

2014 Market Performance

Ole Miss: 2-0 ATS

Alabama: 1-1 ATS

The market has underrated Ole Miss’s blowout potential vs. cupcakes…and probably overrated Wisconsin’s ability to compete with national powers. Way too early to determine if these teams will be overrated or underrated by market standards through the 2015 season.

Quarterback

Ole Miss: Chad Kelly (29-40-1-557 with 6 TDs in two virtual scrimmages)

Alabama: Jake Coker (30-47-1-427 with 2 TDs as a game manager)

Kelly is well-suited to run up big stats vs. bad defenses with this offense. If Coker had played such bad teams, he wouldn’t have six TD passes because the Tide would be running for scores. There should be concerns that Coker has 17 incomplete passes through two games against defenses who don’t really apply a lot of pressure to good offenses. He will be kept on a very tight leash against a strong Ole Miss defense. Again…you have to assume that Alabama’s playing it safe with Coker, while Ole Miss will be gambling more with Kelly.

Current Line: Alabama by 6.5, total of 53.5

The line has come down from an opener of Alabama -8. Interesting that sharps didn’t wait to see if the public was going to bet the national powerhouse in a revenge spot at home in a big TV game! Nope…they were happy with +8, +7.5, and even +7. Guess they figured +9 or +10 never had a shot to come into play. The total has risen from 49.5 or 50 up to 53.5. Didn’t the quants hear this was supposed to be another defensive slugfest? The fact that sharp money is expecting more of a shootout is probably worth paying attention to.

JIM HURLEY’s exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach covers every game from all angles. You saw that last Saturday with our GOLDEN GAME winner on Ohio (+) over Marshall, and all the big TV winners. As we write this, it’s too early to say how Ole Miss/Bama will fit into the selection mix. There’s a good chance either the side or total will be part of another TV parlay at the very least.

You can purchase the final word for Saturday’s full college slate right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service for college football, pro football, or even baseball, please call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Take care of that Friday during normal business hours, or Saturday before the first games kick off.

Back to the NFL for the next few NOTEBOOK reports…

Sunday: NFL TV Preview…Seattle at Green Bay

Monday: NFL TV Preview…NY Jets at Indianapolis

Midweek: NFL TV Preview…Washington at NY Giants

Friday-Saturday: College Football TV Preview…to be determined

Wow…that Seahawks/Packers game is going to be something! For next week’s colleges, we’re going to monitor this Saturday’s results before making a final decision. No clear blockbusters…but definitely several games of interest.  

We hope you won last week’s GOLDEN GAME with us, and are ready for more BIG, JUICY FOOTBALL WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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