OXFORD, MS (WLOX) - Chad Kelly has proven he's the Rebels number one quarterback helping Ole Miss pile up 149 points in wins over UT-Martin and Fresno State.
The Rebels haven't beaten Alabama in Tuscaloosa...since Billy Brewer was the Rebels head coach in 1988. A "W" and Ole Miss should climb into the top 5 and become a prime time player for the National Championship.
Rebels coach Hugh Freeze said, "Are we ready for SEC play? I don't know. I think we have a confident football team right now that believes we can win. I believe we can win. I also know that you can lose these games because you're playing really good teams. We get to open up SEC play in a great environment against one of the best programs in the nation. It should be a good test for us, one that our kids will be very excited for. We have an opportunity to compete at a very high level and play our best football. That's why you want to coach in this league and play in this league, so we are excited."
Alabama has dominated the Ole Miss series posting a 47-10-2 record over the Rebels. Last year Ole Miss upset the Crimson Tide 23-17 in Oxford last season. It was the Rebels first win over Alabama since 2003, ending a 10-game losing streak to the Tide.
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly leads the NCAA in pass efficiency (234.0) and yards per pass attempt (13.9), while he tops the SEC with six passing TDs. The Ole Miss offense leads the nation in scoring offense averaging 74.5 points per game.Kelly and the high octane Rebels offense faces a different challenge on Saturday, a Nick Saban team that plays solid defense.
Freeze said, "Their defense is not going to change a lot. You are going to get their mixture of odd and even fronts. They have guys that can two-gap you on one play and then get on the edge on the next play. Their back ends are going to keep you guessing on whether it is man or zone and they disguise it well. Alabama's defense has not changed a lot, and they probably don't need to. They are very good at what they do. You may see a new pattern or blitz every now and then, though."
The Ole Miss defense has been solid, however is there is one concern, it might be the ability to consistently stop the Alabama rushing attack, led by tailback Derrick Henry.
"Alabama has a good scheme, "said Freeze. "They have a good offensive line and they are well coached. They will have a plan of attack. Derrick Henry is very talented. So are their numbers 17, 34, 13 and 88. Alabama has a bunch of playmakers who make them what they are. It gives them some explosive runs. It is not just Henry. You certainly have to tackle him low. He is big and he is physical. You also have to be aware of where all of their other weapons are."
Ole Miss is 32-46-3 all-time in SEC openers. Alabama opened up as an 8 1/2 point favorite.