Young’s 3 TD passes lifts No. 10 Alabama past No. 11 Ole Miss

Alabama v LSU
Getty Images
0 Comments

OXFORD, Miss. – Alabama coach Nick Saban wondered which Crimson Tide team would show up in Mississippi. As it turned out, he didn’t need to be worried, especially about quarterback Bryce Young.

Young threw three touchdowns passes and No. 10 Alabama scored on four consecutive possessions spanning the second and third quarters, rallying to beat No. 11 Mississippi 30-24 on Saturday.

“They have a lot of pride in what the standard of playing (at) Alabama is,” Saban said. “They were challenged to play to that standard, to take it personally, to understand they’re responsible for the identity that they create by how they play on the field.”

Will Reichard kicked field goals of 23 and 49 yards in the fourth quarter to snap a 24-all tie. Alabama (8-2, 5-2 SEC) secured the win by forcing an incomplete pass into the Crimson Tide end zone in the final minute to extend its seven-game winning streak over the Rebels.

“It was a tough night in a lot of ways, but it was a great night for us because I think we took a step in the right direction,” Saban said. “We didn’t get off to a great start, but the players just kept making one play at a time and at the end of the game that we needed to make.”

Young finished 21 of 33 for 209 yards, including touchdown throws to Jermaine Burton, Cameron Latu and Ja’Courey Brooks.

Alabama trailed 10-0 early and 17-14 at halftime. The Crimson Tide made efficient use of 317 yards of total offense and a defense that stopped three Ole Miss opportunities in the final quarter.

“It’s a shame. We had the ball in our hands at the end of the game and the crowd was in it, but we didn’t get it done,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. “They’ve got great players and great coaches, too, but it’s just a shame.”

Ole Miss (8-2, 4-2) was led by Quinshon Judkins, who had 135 yards on 25 carries and a pair of 1-yard TD runs.

Judkins highlighted the game’s final drive with runs of 35 and 13 yards to get the Rebels to the Alabama 14-yard line before the Crimson Tide got the game-clinching stop.

Jaxson Dart was 18 of 31 passing for 212 yards with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Mingo. The Rebels finished with 403 yards of total offense, but finished 0 for 3 on fourth down conversions, including both of the final two offensive series.

SEC WEST STATUS

LSU (6-1), with the 13-10 win over Arkansas, locked up a share of the SEC West title and a berth in the SEC Championship game. Alabama (5-2) could earn a share of the title by defeating Auburn and a Texas A&M upset of LSU, but the Tigers hold the head to head tiebreaker for the berth in Atlanta opposite the SEC East winner.

THE TAKEAWAY

Alabama: Needing an impressive bounce-back performance, the Crimson Tide responded and remain in position for a major bowl game appearance, a 10-win regular season and a ranking in the top 10. Alabama was 4 for 4 in the red zone and had the edge in the kicking game with Reichard and punter James Burnip, who had a 44-yard average on four kicks.

“Making it 17-14 at halftime was good,” said Saban, regarding a Crimson Tide touchdown with eight seconds before halftime, setting off a 20-0 spurt that spanned the middle quarters. “No one even talked about the score at halftime, which is how we wanted it to be.”

Ole Miss: The loss eliminated any hopes of sharing an SEC West title, but the Rebels retain big incentives, including a prominent bowl game appearance, a high ranking in the poll and consecutive 10-win regular seasons. For that to happen, the defense that gave up four scoring possessions in the second half must be tightened.

DON’T TUG ON SUPERMAN’S CAPE

Kiffin made a concentrated effort to seek out Young on the field during postgame to offer congratulations. Kiffin did not reveal what he shared privately with last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, but said afterward: “Bryce Young put on that Superman cape and made plays at the end. He’s a special player.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The No. 10 Crimson Tide, ranked for 240 consecutive weeks in the AP Poll, the longest active streak in the nation, could move up on the strength of the road win. A minor drop is expected for No. 11 Ole Miss, ranked for 27 consecutive weeks in the poll.

UP NEXT

Alabama: Closes with consecutive home games, beginning with Austin Peay on Saturday.

Ole Miss: Visit Arkansas on Saturday. Ole Miss stopped a two-point conversion after regulation time to win 52-51 last season.

No. 10 Alabama in unfamiliar territory — out of contention

alabama football
Carlos M. Saavedra/Getty Images
2 Comments

Bryce Young was 9 years old the last time Alabama played a regular-season game without national championship implications.

That was five national titles ago.

Now, thanks to two ever-so-slender defeats – by a total of four points – Young and the 10th-ranked Crimson Tide (7-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) are almost certainly back in that scenario for the first time since that 2010 team went 10-3.

Downright disastrous by the stratospheric standards of Nick Saban‘s ‘Bama teams.

“I know people have kind of written us off to some degree,” Saban said on Monday. “But at the same time, I think we have a lot of pride as an organization. I think we need to focus on what it takes to win games. Play the game, win the game, prepare for the game.”

Alabama must regroup in time to visit Lane Kiffin and No. 11 Mississippi (8-1, 4-1) on Saturday.

FanDuel Sportsbook has installed the Tide as 11 1/2-point favorites, but both losses have come on the road. LSU is in the driver’s seat of the SEC West with essentially a two-game lead thanks to wins over Alabama and Ole Miss.

Rebels coach Kiffin doesn’t want to hear any of the “dynasty is over” chatter, saying that two plays are separating Alabama from coming in unbeaten and ranked 1 or 2.

“We’re talking about two plays, two teams on the road in two of the hardest environments – over 100,000 fans – to play in,” said Kiffin, a former Saban offensive coordinator at Alabama.

“This is a great team and the best coach to ever do it.”

The Tide figures to be heavily favored in its last two games. against Austin Peay and struggling rival Auburn. Now, the challenge isn’t playing with the pressure of staying in the national title hunt, it’s playing well without that prospect.

“I think it’s a challenge, but at the same time I think we’ve still got a lot to play for,” defensive end Byron Young said. “We’ve got to play for the name on the back of our jerseys. We’ve got to play for the `A’ on the front of it.

“And we’ve got to play for everybody that’s beside us because I’m gonna come in here every single day and work just like I’m going to play for a national championship next Saturday. And that’s what I expect everybody else to do.”

Alabama has played in 171 regular season games with national championship implications since 2008 and only three without, a note that was culled from the team’s game notes this week. Those three came in the 2010 season.

Alabama has posted double-digit wins every season since Saban’s 2007 debut and needs to win three of four to keep that string going, counting a bowl game.

The Tide, which lost to Georgia in the national championship game last season, returned as the favorite to win a seventh crown under Saban. Alabama, after all, had arguably the two best players in college football returning, probably for only one more season: the Heisman Trophy-winning Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. Both are highly rated NFL prospects ahead of next year’s draft.

The second loss had Saban complaining about the unfairness of placing such expectations on his team “before they ever have a body of work.”

“But I think that’s kind of the nature of the beast in this day and age,” he said. “But I think being able to handle that, not putting pressure on yourself to try to live up to that expectation, sort of creates a lot of anxiety in some cases.”

Saban said he wants his players to experience joy, not relief, from winning.

“I think I’ve done a pretty average job of getting our players out of that mode,” he said.

This team never really was the consistently dominant group many expected. The offensive line has struggled at times to protect Young, and he hasn’t had go-to receivers like Jameson Williams and John Metchie III last season.

The defense has given up some big plays, including LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels‘ 25-yard touchdown run in overtime.

Alabama won squeakers against Texas and SEC West cellar dweller Texas A&M, meaning four games have gone down to the wire.

Saban was asked to evaluate the performance of the offense and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, and didn’t directly answer the latter part.

“Look, there’s things that we need to do better in every part of our organization,” he said. “I’m not going to analyze somebody publicly, good, bad or indifferent. We’re all working hard together. We’re all responsible for what we do. Do we need to play better on both sides of the ball? Absolutely.

“There’s not a coach or a player in this organization that can’t do things better to help our players have a better chance to be successful.”

Alabama DL Eboigbe likely out for season after neck surgery

alabama football
Alika Jenner/Getty Images
0 Comments

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama defensive lineman Justin Eboigbe is likely out for the season with a neck injury.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Wednesday Eboigbe has had surgery. He played in the first four games but hasn’t seen action since.

“He had a procedure done that would enhance his opportunity to be able to play in the future, but I don’t think that’s going to come this season,” Saban said.

Eboigbe made 11 tackles and had two quarterback hurries in the first four games. Saban had announced his injury after Alabama beat Arkansas on Oct. 1 without giving a timetable for Eboigbe’s return.

He has played in 42 games over the past three-plus seasons, recording 59 tackles.

No. 6 Alabama is off this week before traveling to face No. 18 LSU on Nov. 5.

The Tide played against Mississippi State without two other injured defensive linemen, DJ Dale and Jaheim Oatis.