OXFORD, Miss. — It was an all-out offensive shootout in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night as Alabama football held off Ole Miss, 63-48.
Alabama’s offense accounted for a grand total of 723 yards while Ole Miss totaled 647. Starting midway through the second quarter, both teams strung together ten-consecutive touchdown drives through the fourth quarter with not much standing in either teams’ way.
The combined 1,370 yards is the most in a single game in SEC history.
“We’ve had some real crazy games over here and this was another one,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said after the game. “I think that [there’s] some lessons to be learned.”
For Alabama, senior running back Najee Harris had the best game of his career, totaling 206 yards on 23 carries along with five touchdowns. Both stats are career-highs for Harris.
Redshirt-junior quarterback Mac Jones also had a solid performance against the Rebels, throwing 28-for-32 for 417 yards and two touchdowns. Two Alabama receivers caught for over 100 yards on the night, with senior DeVonta Smith having 13 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown and junior Jaylen Waddle having six receptions for 120 yards.
Smith also had one 14-yard rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
“I think the biggest thing was is our guys really competed in this game for 60 minutes,” Saban said. “I mean we scored every time we had to score, we took the air out of it at the end of the game, the offense did a fantastic job in this game. We had a good plan and we did a good job of executing. Najee Harris was good, Mac played really well, receiving core played really well, really great job on special teams recovering both on-sides kicks — could have made a huge difference in the game.”
For the Rebels, quarterback Matt Corral went 21-for-28 with 365 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss running back Snoop Conner also had quite a night with 128 yards on 21 attempts and two touchdowns.
Rebels running back Jerrion Ealy also had 120 yards on 19 attempts and two touchdowns of his own.
As the man that essentially built the Crimson Tide’s modern offense, former Saban assistant and current Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin clearly knew how to take advantage of the Crimson Tide.
In the first quarter, both Alabama and Ole Miss scored on their first drives. On the Crimson Tide’s second, drive, Alabama made it all the way down to the Rebels’ one-yard line before Harris fumbled the football for the first time in his career on his 467th carry.
Ole Miss capitalized on the fumble and took the 14-7 lead, but Alabama came back and tied it with a touchdown of their own.
At halftime, both teams were tied a 21 points apiece. The roar of the Ole Miss faithful in Vaught-Hemingway was almost prophetic in that everyone in attendance was in for a second half that was even more wild than the first.
Ten-consecutive touchdowns later from both offenses, and the score was 49-42 in favor of Alabama. The scoring didn’t stop there, though. Ole Miss was able to still kick a field goal to pull within four.
Alabama responded with another touchdown. Ole Miss fired back again with another field goal. The Crimson Tide responded with yet another touchdown. Ole Miss kicked a field goal and attempted an on-sides kick, but the second attempt of the day fell into Alabama’s possession.
The defensive nightmare for both teams was over as Alabama prevailed 63-48.
Defensively, both sides struggled as evidenced by the scoreboard. On third down, Alabama was able to convert six-of-seven, while Ole Miss was able to convert nine-of-17. The Crimson Tide showed glaring holes in both its defensive line and secondary that will need to be plugged up if it still wants to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive heading into the bigger matchups of the season over the next few weeks.
“We struggled,” Saban said. “I mean, didn’t do anything well. Didn’t stop the run, gave up some big plays in the back end, got picked, couldn’t get the quarterback on the ground when we needed to even when we got some pressure. We had some mistakes in coverage — got picked in coverage. We just didn’t play very well.
“I’m responsible for that and we’ve got to do a better job as coaches to try to help put our guys in a better position.”
With 48 points, the Rebels scored more points against the Crimson Tide than any other unranked opponent since the beginning of the bowl era in 1936.
Despite Alabama giving up the most yards in a regulation game in program history, Saban seemed pleased with the effort from his players through those 60 minutes.
Say what you like about the numbers on the stat sheet. Saban is proud of how his players competed until the last whistle was blown.
“Great job of playing for four quarters, great job of competing for 60 minutes,” Saban said. “Played with a lot of toughness. Very physical out there. Showed a lot of resiliency to keep playing. Got some stops there at the end of the game when we needed to so I’m really proud of our team for the way they competed in this game.”
Alabama moves to 3-0 on the season while Ole Miss drops to 1-2 on the season. Saban now moves to 21-0 all-time against his former assistants with the win over Kiffin.
The Crimson Tide will now begin preparations for the Georgia Bulldogs, who visit Bryant-Denny Stadium next Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.