Nick Saban has been the most important coach in college football since he took over at Alabama in 2007. The Crimson Tide's head coach is one of the most advanced football minds ever, and he has created a lot of protégés throughout his career. Perhaps the most famous of his ex-coordinators who are now head coaching elsewhere is Lane Kiffin. Now the head coach at Ole Miss, Kiffin was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Alabama from 2014-2016. Kiffin has yet to get a win against his former boss, but he will get a chance in an evenly-matched game in Week 4 of college football action. Alabama and Ole Miss are scheduled to face off on Saturday, Sept. 20. Here is everything you need to know about the game.
When and where is the game?
In one of the most important regular season games of Nick Saban's career, the Alabama football team's game against Ole Miss is a must-win matchup. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 23. Alabama is the home team, playing at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
How to watch Alabama vs. Ole Miss
CBS will have television broadcasting rights to the game. It can also be streamed on fuboTV.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 23 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Bryant-Denny Stadium — Tuscaloosa, Alabama
TV channel: CBS | Live stream: fuboTV (click for a free trial)
Odds: Alabama -7 | O/U 55.5
Alabama is out of the top 10
Alabama football was ranked in the top 10 for 128 straight weeks. That was the second-longest streak in history, as the Crimson Tide were not ranked outside of the top 10 since September 2015. That changed this week because Alabama followed up a loss to Texas with an underwhelming win over South Florida, which dropped Alabama to 13th in the nation.
Ironically, the team that caused Alabama to fall out of the top 10 in 2015 was Ole Miss. Lane Kiffin is now the Ole Miss head coach, but at the time, he was an assistant to Nick Saban on the Alabama staff. Alabama bounced back in 2015 to end up as national champions, but the squad hasn't looked nearly as smooth or talented in the early parts of 2023. Now, they have to take on one of their toughest opponents of the year. Ole Miss is undefeated and ranked 15th.
Alabama has struggled in large part because of quarterback question marks. Jalen Milroe entered the season as the starting quarterback, but he struggled with decision-making and turnover problems, leading to his benching before the South Florida game. Tyler Buchner was given a chance to start in that game, but he disappointed and was benched before the game was over. Buchner only completed 35.7 percent of his passes before Ty Simpson was given a chance to play. Simpson looked better than Buchner, but it wasn't enough to remain the team's starter. Saban decided that Milroe has looked the best of the bunch, and he is back to starting in the game against Ole Miss.
Alabama has also struggled with penalties this season, a problem they had last year as well. The Crimson Tide was the most penalized team in the FBS in 2022, and although Saban preaches discipline and doesn't allow that kind of play, the team has struggled with penalties yet again, having four scores already negated by flags.
Saban is considered to be among the best ever, and former coordinators-turned-head coaches elsewhere have struggled to beat him. The head coach doesn't like to lose ever, but especially to former assistants. He is 28-2 against in such games, so the team may have some extra motivation on Saturday.
Ole Miss storylines
Lane Kiffin is 0-3 against Nick Saban, and with Alabama vulnerable, the Rebels' head coach will look to take advantage. Kiffin is an offensive mastermind, and that has been on full display this season. His team has scored 73, 37, and 48 points in each of their three games. Ole Miss is the 11th most productive offense in football, with 526.7 yards per game and 18 offensive touchdowns.
The Rebels have arguably the best quarterback and running back tandem in the SEC. Jaxson Dart has 852 passing yards and nine total touchdowns. Quinshon Judkins has 215 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns out of the backfield.
Jordan Watkins has also impressed at the wide receiver position, leading the team with 15 receptions for 290 receiving yards. Tre Harris – a transfer from Louisiana Tech – has emerged as one of the best deep threats in the nation. Five of his eight catches have gone for a score.
Alabama and Ole Miss have a long history together, but the Crimson Tide have dominated the rivalry. Alabama has a 54-10-2 record against Ole Miss. In 2023, these are two very different teams. Alabama is known for its defense, but they aren't the unstoppable force that we have grown to know. Ole Miss is an offensive powerhouse, but they haven't taken on a defense to the caliber of Alabama's yet. If Ole Miss is to better their record against Alabama, there may not be a better time to do it.