This season I’ll be breaking down a few of college football’s biggest games each week and giving out at least one bet I like from each matchup.
Let’s take a look at this week’s big SEC showdown between Alabama and Ole Miss.
Alabama vs Ole Miss Spread, current line:
Alabama vs Ole Miss Best Bet Prediction:
The numbers point to Alabama, but I can’t trust this team on the road 一 as an alternative laying the points, take Alabama’s team total over 38.5 points.
When Alabama is on Offense
Alabama’s offensive line struggles to protect Bryce Young and, as expected, that created a mismatch against LSU’s strong pass rush last week.
Take a look at Young’s numbers versus pressure against LSU, via Sports Info Solutions:
- 3-13 (23.1%)
- 47 yards (3.6 yards per attempt)
- 1 touchdown, 1 interception
- 2 sacks, 1 scramble for 11 yards
As we discussed in last week’s preview, this was expected, as LSU entered the game ranked 18th in opponent-adjusted pressure rate generated.
Let’s take a look at this week’s pass-protection matchup based on opponent-adjusted data from Sports Info Solutions:
- Alabama ranks 91st in pressure rate allowed
- Ole Miss ranks 108th in pressure rate generated
The only SEC team ranked worse than Ole Miss is Arkansas 一 Young averaged a season-high 13.3 yards per attempt against the Razorbacks.
It is worth noting, Ole Miss may be able to limit Alabama’s downfield passing attack. Opponents throw 15 or more yards downfield 14.5% less frequently against Ole Miss, ranked 23rd in the nation.
Ole Miss limits downfield opportunities by using a combination of zone coverage without a blitz on 54% of opponent dropbacks outside the red zone, the fourth highest rate, per Sports Info Solutions. This strategy takes away the deep ball, but opens things up underneath.
Alabama holds a more obvious advantage in the run game, where its offensive line has been more effective.
Consider the run-game matchup based on this opponent-adjusted data from Sports Info Solutions:
- Alabama ranks 7th in yards before contact
- Ole Miss ranks 80th in yards before contact allowed
Ole Miss also ranks 68th in explosive rush rate allowed (plays of 10 or more yards), in part due to its inability to create early contact.
Ole Miss has allowed three or more yards before contact to opposing running backs on 30% of their carries.
Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs struggles to fight through early contact, but when given three or more yards before contact, he leads the nation with 16.0 yards per attempt 一 so expect a few big plays out of Gibbs in this matchup.
When Ole Miss is on Offense
Ole Miss has become a run-heavy offense this year, with a 66% run rate in neutral game situations, per Campus2Canton.
That trend makes Alabama a bad matchup for the Rebels, as the Tide’s weakness has been its secondary.
Take a look at these run-game metrics for the Alabama run defense:
- 45% contact rate at or behind the line of scrimmage (ranked 23rd)
- Allows 3 or more yards before contact on 26% of carries (ranked 22nd)
- Ranked 5th in opponent-adjusted yards before contact allowed
Ole Miss freshman running back Quinshon Judkins is having a breakout season, but he’s dependent on his offensive line clearing room.
Check out Judkin’s numbers in SEC play based on when he draws first contact, per Sports Info Solutions:
- Contacted within two yards: 2.2 yards/att (ranked 15th out of 16)
- Given 3+ yards before contact: 14.3 yards/att (ranked 2nd)
One of the reasons Ole Miss has become more run-heavy is because quarterback Jaxson Dart can’t be trusted throwing downfield.
Dart ranks 97th in the nation with a 67% catchable pass rate on throws 10 or more yards downfield.
Alabama ranks third in opponent-adjusted EPA per dropback, and will be just the third team Dart has faced in the top 25 by that metric.
In those other two games (LSU, Auburn), Dart completed 52.8% of passes, with a positive EPA rate of just 39%, per Sports Info Solutions.
Final Thoughts on Alabama vs Ole Miss Best Bets
All the numbers point to an easy Alabama win, so I’d lay the points if forced to pick. However, Nick Saban’s squad is among the most undisciplined in the country 一 they rank 124th in penalty yards per game 一 and they’re 2-6 against the spread on the road over the last two seasons.
Alabama has hung 59, 63, and 42 points on Ole Miss in the Lane Kiffin era and would love to take out some frustration on the Rebels again.
The over on Alabama’s team total at 38.5 points seems like the safest bet in this matchup.