SEC Showdown: Alabama at Ole Miss

Lane Kiffin would like to join Jimbo Fisher and Kirby Smart as the only former Nick Saban assistants to beat him when Ole Miss hosts Alabama on Saturday as a double-digit home underdog.

No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels

Line: Alabama -12

Total: 64.5

Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Mississippi

When: Saturday, 11/12 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: CBS

Saturday afternoon’s meeting between Alabama and Ole Miss appeared as if it would decide the winner of the SEC West this season.

That is no longer the case, as neither team controls their own destiny following LSU’s upset win over Alabama in overtime last week. The Tigers have now recorded wins over both programs, putting them in a position to face Georgia in December’s SEC title game.

Alabama has not lost consecutive games since 2013, and oddsmakers do not expect that streak to be snapped on Saturday. The Crimson Tide opened as 11-point favorites before the early betting action pushed the line up to -12. The total opened at 63.5 and had not moved until Wednesday when most spots moved to 64.5 and a few went to 65.

Nick Saban’s team went 6-0 (4-2 against the spread) through its first six games this season, surviving scares as a big favorite against Texas and Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide were unable to escape with a win against Tennessee last month and added last week’s 32-31 loss to LSU, putting them in a rough position as far as the College Football Playoff is concerned.

“I know people have kind of written us off to some degree,” Saban said. “We’ve had four games that have come down to basically the last play of the game. We won two of them and lost two of them by a total of four points.”

DraftKings has them priced as 14-1 longshots to make the CFP field, offering a takeback price of -5000 on them to miss the event. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young has seen his odds plummet to 40-1 to be a repeat winner, despite throwing for 2,234 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Young completed 25 of 51 passes for 328 yards, one touchdown and one pick against LSU. His top target this season has been sophomore wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks, who has 28 receptions for 473 yards and five touchdowns. Junior running back Jahmyr Gibbs is one of the most explosive players in the country, racking up 771 rushing yards and 365 receiving yards.

Ole Miss bounced back from its first loss of the season, a 45-20 setback against LSU, with a 31-28 win as a 3-point favorite against Texas A&M two weeks ago. The Rebels have extra rest coming into this game off their bye week, but they are 2-6 SU and ATS in their last eight games coming off an open date, including a 42-21 loss at Alabama last year.

They are on a 14-game home winning streak, with all but one of those wins coming as favorites. Ole Miss is 1-12 (3-9-1 ATS) in its last 13 games as a home underdog.

Sophomore quarterback Jaxson Dart has completed 61.1% of his passes for 1,912 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions—he has also rushed for 472 yards. The Rebels have one of the top rushing attacks in the country, led by freshman Quinshon Judkins. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season against Texas A&M and has scored 13 touchdowns.

Junior running back Zach Evans has added 680 rushing yards and seven scores. Senior wide receiver Jonathan Mingo has been Dart’s top target in the passing game, hauling in 30 receptions for 665 yards and four touchdowns.

“We’re going to play a good team this week,” Saban said. “And I’m sure they’re going to want to put up on their mantel, ‘We beat Alabama, too.’ It’s just a matter of whether we’re going to allow that to happen or do everything we can to avoid it.”

The pick: Ole Miss +12

I have admittedly had a tough time handicapping Alabama’s games this season, as the Crimson Tide have been far more inconsistent than in recent years. It’s tough to justify laying double digits with them in this spot, as Ole Miss has one of the top scoring offenses in the country and has been outstanding at home under head coach Lane Kiffin. The Rebels had an extra week to prepare for this game and are facing an Alabama team that likely had its CFP hopes dashed last week. Ole Miss can turn this game into a shootout, which gives the Rebels an excellent chance at covering the spread and pulling off an outright upset. Alabama’s defense has let Saban down on multiple occasions this year, so I do not trust the Crimson Tide to cover big spreads against good offenses right now.

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