Ole Miss Football: Grove Grinder, Nervous Excitement For Bama Week

OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 28: Fans of the Ole Miss Rebels walk through the Grove before a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Hemingway Stadium on October 28, 2017 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 28: Fans of the Ole Miss Rebels walk through the Grove before a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Hemingway Stadium on October 28, 2017 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

After two weeks of Ole Miss football the Rebels are now 2-0 but have the biggest test of the season entering the Vaught this Saturday when they face Bama.

Ole Miss football fans are excited about the Rebels this season. So far we’ve seen the Rebels play and win two games which told us a lot about this football team. After winning the season opener 47-27 over Texas Tech we realized the Rebels offense was even better than last season and can seemingly score at will. We saw the potential this Ole Miss offense has to be one of the top offenses in the nation. We also saw the emergence of JUCO transfer Scottie Phillips who became the first single-game 200 yard Rebels rusher since 2010.

This past Saturday the Rebels hosted FCS member Southern Illinois. Once again we saw a powerful first half offense, well two powerful offenses, and watched as the Rebels defense bled away 38 points and 386 total yards to the Salukis. Yes the Rebels defense was embarrassing in the first half and yes there were people calling for both McGriff and Luke to be gone. Thankfully, the Rebels defense woke up in the second half and with adjustments held the Salukis to just 3 points to finish out the game. Of course, the Rebels offense continued clicking in the second half and the Rebels got the 76-41 blowout win.

Yet Rebels Fans Are Unhappy

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I can understand the Rebels fans unhappiness with the performance against the Salukis but there were a number of reasons why the Rebels defense looked like a totally different between the first and second halves. This game was supposed to be a runaway game for the Rebels and in large part was thanks to a solid and consistent game offensively. I believe here is a good place to point out we’ve only seen a sliver of what this offense will do this season.

Yes, the defense was vanilla in the first half but did what they needed to do in the second half to get thru SIU. The adjustments made at the half were great and it showed how much this coaching staff has improved from last season. In 2017 we watched games where the Ole Miss staff was completely out-coached. A year makes a lot of difference in a team but there is no magic wand which can be waved to replace experience. The staff is learning.

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Another thing Rebels fans need to remember is we have Nick Saban and the No.1 Crimson Tide coming into Oxford this Saturday. Many Rebels fans, like myself, have had this game circled on the schedule for a year. The 66-3 thrashing the Rebels took last season weighs heavily upon us. This is not just a big game for the Rebels but the biggest game the Rebels will have this season. The players and coaches know this too and I’m sure it was very difficult to properly focus on SIU with what lay ahead. Thankfully we won’t have to wait for the Tide much longer.

We Want Bama?

Why yes we really do. While some Rebels fans are worried about the Bama game there are those of us who look forward to this game each season. My disdain for State College is well-known. The fact I hate Corndog U is also very well-known. Alabama is the football team I loathe each and every season. Much of it is the fact Alabama seems unstoppable and more times than not have totally controlled the games between the Rebels and Tide. Of course, it hasn’t always been that way and over the years I’ve been lucky enough to see some incredible wins.

So now we are in 2018 and we’ve seen the Rebels win 2 out of the last 4 matchups. In both of the two Rebels wins we watched explosive offenses make huge plays and saw the defenses make some big stops. Guess what Rebels? We weren’t supposed to win those games either as I recall. We are Ole Miss and nobody gives us any credit. Even when the Rebels defeated the Tide in Tuscaloosa a few years ago the national media couldn’t give us credit for our success. Most failed to acknowledge Ole Miss being the only team to defeat Nick Saban at Bama in consecutive seasons which is still the case.

Some Rebels Have Doubts

I understand the doubts much of Rebel Nation have right now. You can’t tune into any sports media this week  without hearing about the success of Alabama thru two games. You will also hear about the Rebels lack of defense which was evident in the first half this past Saturday. Yes, Alabama is a great team and yes we have a lot of work to do on defense. However, this team is much better than many college football pundits are giving us credit for. Yes, there is a long way to go for this Ole Miss team but they are headed in the right direction.

Saturday when the Rebels take the field they will be facing a very good Bama team which will be very tough. However, Bama is just a football team and like all others they aren’t perfect. There are obvious issues for Bama at a number of positions this season. Saban will certainly have those corrected as soon as possible but it may not be by this Saturday and the Rebels have a shot at taking advantage of those weaknesses early in the season rather than later. (OHT will be taking a closer look at some of those later in the week in our Alabama preview.)

Hang In There Rebels

I realize it wasn’t easy watching the first half this past weekend. However, this is a new week. The Rebels are 2-0 and at kickoff Saturday will be tied with the Tide. While the Tide may be favored in the game it’s not the first time the Rebels have been the underdog. It would be interesting to know the last time, if ever the Rebels were actually favored against the Tide. I’m not sure about that fact and I’m not sure if the Rebels will win this Saturday. However, there are a few things I do know and they will be huge this Saturday.

When the Rebels and the Tide meet Saturday the Rebels will see both the SEC passing leader and SEC rushing leader on our side. The Rebels will also have the NWO which boasts three of the Top5 SEC receiving leaders. While we can’t be sure about what we will see from the Ole Miss defense on Saturday we can all be very sure about what this offense can and likely will do. Nick Saban knows the experienced talent the Rebels have on offense is strong and explosive and will be hard to stop. Not being sure how good the Tide defense really is I like our chances this Saturday. However, it is still making me a nervous wreck.

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Naturally, this week heading into the Rebels SEC opener OHT will be covering a lot of subjects pertaining to the Ole Miss/Bama game. Please be sure to check back with us here or like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to get the latest Rebels news and updates. This is going to be an exciting week so don’t worry, be happy and Hotty Toddy on. BEAT BAMA!