Big Game Hunting: A Rebels repeat against Alabama?

SHARE Big Game Hunting: A Rebels repeat against Alabama?

Cam Newton and Auburn did it in 2010. A defensive-minded LSU squad pulled it off in 2011. A year after that, freshman Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M became the third visiting team in as many seasons to steal a victory in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and put itself in line for great achievement.

Which brings us to No. 15 Ole Miss at No. 2 Alabama (8:15 p.m., ESPN), which has the potential to deliver such big-picture drama. The Crimson Tide and Rebels, both 2-0, are breaking in new starting quarterbacks, but the Ole Miss offense already is in peak form, leading all of college football with 74.5 points per game. The Rebels beat Alabama 23-17 a year ago in Oxford, Miss.

“This is where you make the money,” said quarterback Chad Kelly, a junior-college transfer who began his career at Clemson. “This is where it counts.”

But Ole Miss, a seven-point underdog, has dropped 12 consecutive road games in this series. Beating Nick Saban and the Tide two years in a row? No SEC opponent has been able to do that yet. Yet Rebels coach Hugh Freeze can envision it.

“I think we have a confident football team right now that believes it can win,” Freeze said. “I believe we can win.”

That makes one of us. Roll Tide, 27-17.

As was the case in Week 2, the SEC gets a tip of the helmet for being better at scheduling than any other conference. No. 18 Auburn at No. 13 LSU (2:30 p.m., Ch. 2) — which might’ve overshadowed Alabama-Ole Miss had Auburn not played terribly in an overtime victory over Jacksonville State — is another big-time game involving a pair of teams with CFB Playoff-sized goals.

“We’ve got more than enough talent to do what we want to do this year,” said Auburn safety Johnathan Ford.

Problem: Quarterback Jeremy Johnson has been close to a train wreck, throwing five interceptions in a pair of uninspiring wins. LSU’s defense — with its top-notch pass rush — is too unforgiving for that noise.

“We may not get there every time,” said LSU defensive lineman Christian LaCouture, “but we must rattle the quarterback.”

Bayou Bengals fail to cover the seven but hand Auburn its first defeat, 23-20.

The SEC East comes out fairly strong with South Carolina at No. 7 Georgia (5 p.m., ESPN) and Florida at Kentucky (6:30 p.m., SEC Network). I see both underdogs — the Gamecocks (+17) and the Wildcats (+3) — performing well, with Kentucky winning outright. That would merely end a 28-game losing streak against the Gators, the longest active streak in the FBS.

Nebraska at Miami (2:30 p.m., ESPN2) puts all sorts of pressure on Huskers coach Mike Riley, who doesn’t want to slip to 1-2 to start his debut season. Then again, Miami’s Al Golden surely would love to trade his pressure for Riley’s. Remember when these programs were titans?

“I’ve been getting a feel for what this [matchup] means to this team and this program,” Riley said.

He used the word “rivalry,” though that seems like a bit of a stretch. Still, this should be a highly entertaining game, with a lot of athleticism on the field. I’m taking the Hurricanes to win and (barely) cover, 35-31.

It ain’t what it used to be, but Stanford at No. 6 USC (7 p.m., Ch. 7) — Trojans favored by 10? Please — will be a close, hard-fought game because that’s what all games in this series are. The Trojans won each of the last two meetings by a field goal. The previous three games, all Stanford victories, were decided by one possession. Dare me to pick the upset? OK, I’ll do it: Tree 20, Troy 17.

Let’s finish with a couple of somewhat under-the-radar matchups with potential for serious intrigue — one that will usher in the weekend, No. 9 Florida State at Boston College (Friday, 7 p.m., ESPN), and one that will help bring it to a close, No. 19 BYU at No. 10 UCLA (Saturday, 9:30 p.m., FS1).

FSU, a seven-point favorite, has its hands full. As well as BC runs the football — 551 yards and 10 touchdowns in two victories thus far — this could end badly for the Seminoles. I see FSU’s explosive standout back, Dalvin Cook, making a big play to save the night. Call it FSU, 27-23.

I correctly picked BYU to upset both Nebraska and Boise State, but this is where that train stops. Cougars cover the 17 but taste defeat for the first time.

Last week: 4-1 straight-up, 2-3 vs. the spread.

Season: 9-1 straight-up, 5-5 vs. the spread.

Follow me at @SLGreenberg


The Latest
Naperville North’s Caden Pearson and Zach Schmitt won the ICASSTT Clash, the de facto state championship, Sunday on Lake Springfield.
Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina play rookie podcasters in Peacock series that pranks viewers with scenes that aren’t real.
Talk with our journalists, including our executive editor, at one of our upcoming community listening sessions.
With mid-shelf bottles of the basic liquors, some inexpensive dry and sweet vermouths, a bottle of Angostura bitters and a few inexpensive bar tools, you can craft popular cocktails at home.
Still to be determined is how players like Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, who defected to Saudi-funded LIV Golf for nine-figure bonuses, can rejoin the PGA Tour after this year.