Potential upset of the year in the SEC West
Picking upsets can be a chore.
Playing with the point spread is one thing, but going with a double-digit underdog against one of college football’s elites is another, downright gutsy when it’s August and we haven’t seen either team perform under game-like conditions.
Let’s take a stab anyway, a not-so-trendy upset pick in both divisions. We’ll start out West with two contenders, one a little less respected than the other:
POTENTIAL SEC WEST UPSET OF THE YEAR
OLE MISS OVER ALABAMA in Oxford on Oct. 4
Projected spread at kickoff: Crimson Tide by 14.5
Projected records of both teams: Ole Miss 4-0; Alabama 4-0
Popular opinion: Bo Wallace and the Rebels are pretenders, nowhere near Alabama’s level after last year’s shutout loss
Why it could happen: The first true road game for a guaranteed first-year starter under center for Alabama, rookie quarterbacks are known to get rattled in hostile environments, especially in the SEC. Unforgettable moments often take place when we least expect it, so how fitting would it be if, for one night, the college football spotlight shined on Oxford and Bo Wallace’s career-defining win came against the Crimson Tide? If Alabama has a question mark on defense its in the secondary, though that inexperience didn’t show much last fall when the Crimson Tide limited the Rebels to 205 total yards and just 11 first downs.
Toughest obstacles: On the heels of its first 4-0 start in 43 years, the obvious pressure of a big-game atmosphere for Ole Miss in a nationally-televised tilt pitting Top 15 teams could be quite burdensome. Consider too that Alabama will be coming off a bye week with supreme confidence following a double-digit pasting of Florida. The excitement level leading up to kickoff at sold out Vaught-Hemingway could potentially back fire if Christion Jones gets loose early on special teams. The last thing the Rebels can afford is to fall behind early against a well-oiled machine and preseason league favorite. Hugh Freeze has yet to figure out Kirby Smart’s defense as a Rebel, managing just two touchdowns in eight quarters against Alabama’s first-teamers over the past two seasons.
What to watch: Since Nick Saban took over in 2007, Alabama’s 7-0 against the Rebels and has never lost the turnover battle, leading the plus-minus category in the series at +11. To pull off the upset, first priority for Ole Miss is limiting giveaways. The Crimson Tide thrive off short fields. The average score of this matchup over the last seven years is 29.4 to 11.1 in the Crimson Tide’s favor, much of that action coming before intermission.