Alabama A-Day Game

Lane Kiffin, now in his first year as Ole Miss' head coach, was the offensive coordinator for Alabama and coach Nick Saban from 2014-16. [GARY COSBY JR./THE TUSCALOOSA NEWS]

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Oxford, Mississippi

TV/radio: ESPN/FM-93.9, AM-920

The line: Alabama by 24

Records: Alabama (2-0), Ole Miss (1-1)

The series: Alabama leads 51-10-2

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Four-down territory

1. Hurricane Bowl: Hurricane Delta was making its way toward the Gulf Coast and expected to make landfall on Saturday. The forecast calls for heavy rain across Mississippi, including Oxford, site for Saturday’s showdown. SEC officials were monitoring the situation and were in constant contact with teams affected by the storm. On Thursday, the league changed the Alabama-Ole Miss game time from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

2. Better than Tua: No one is making the claim Mac Jones is a better quarterback than Tua Tagovailoa, a No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. However, Jones has shot out of the gate this season, completing 74.5 percent of his passes for 684 yards with six touchdowns against two SEC opponents. In his first two games last season, Tagovailoa passed for 563 yards and seven TDs (against Duke and New Mexico State).

3. Streak over: Opponents connected on every field-goal attempt against Alabama last season, going 20-for-20. Missouri made it 22-of-22 with two field goals in the 2020 opener, but Texas A&M ended the streak with a missed 37-yarder in the first quarter last week.

4. A step back: Allowing just 43 total points through two games should make any defensive coordinator happy. Not at Alabama. The Tide has allowed five touchdowns and 43 total points, compared to just one touchdown and 13 total points through two games last season.

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Key matchup

Alabama offense vs. Ole Miss offense

Through two games, Alabama has put up 90 points while Ole Miss has 77. With the talent on the Crimson Tide roster, and with Lane Kiffin running the Rebel offense, those numbers aren’t a shock. This game comes down to Alabama’s playmakers vs. Kiffin’s play-calling.

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Player of the week

Najee Harris, RB

Ole Miss’ defense has been abysmal against the run (604 yards). Alabama hasn’t actually lit up with the ground game (220 yards), but it has a workhorse in Najee Harris. The Tide running back will get the majority of the touches Saturday, and could have a big day against an outmatched Rebel defense.

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By the numbers

109: The Crimson Tide was outgained on the ground by Texas A&M last week 115-109. It’s the lowest rushing total for Alabama since it had 76 yards against South Carolina in 2019.

35: When the Crimson Tide scores on the opening drive, chances are high for a win. Alabama has won 35 straight games when it scores on the first possession. The streak dates to the Tide’s 2014 Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma.

5: Running back Najee Harris is second in the SEC for most touchdowns by a non-quarterback with five. He scored three against Missouri and two against Texas A&M.

595: Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore and Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle have a combined 595 yards. Moore leads the SEC with 319 yards while Waddle is right behind with 276.

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Prediction

Alabama 63, Ole Miss 28

With a hurricane, sloppy conditions in Oxford are an almost certainty. That might slow down Alabama for a series or two. But not even hurricane conditions will stop the Crimson Tide from putting up obscene numbers.

— Edwin Stanton

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