GAMEDAY PREVIEW: No. 21 Ole Miss At No. 1 Alabama

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Vince Sanders returns to the field today against Alabama, after missing the first three games because of injury.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Vince Sanders returns to the field today against Alabama, after missing the first three games because of injury.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Sept. 28, 2013

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Monday Blog:Another 'Measuring Stick' For Ole Miss

Wednesday Blog: D. Nkemdiche Nears Return From Injury

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — No. 21 Ole Miss seeks its first 4-0 start since 1970, as it travels to No. 1 Alabama with a kickoff set for 5:30 p.m. CT from Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Coming off a bye week, the Rebels (3-0) are in the midst of four road games out of the first five games of the season.

“We were excited to have last week off," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "It was very critical for us to get some kids healthy, heading into this stretch of games in particular. It’s a brutal stretch. We’ve talked about that. It’s a beginning. It doesn’t get any more difficult than to go over to Alabama and play on a Saturday night. That’s the way we’ll kick it off with three other tough ones to follow it."

With road wins over Vanderbilt and Texas, Ole Miss has its highest ranking in the Associated Press poll since the end of the 2009 season. Alabama (3-0) has laid claim to three of the last four BCS National Championships and enters Saturday's matchup coming off a 31-6 win against Colorado State.

"For several years now, Alabama has been the standard to which you measure yourself in this conference," Freeze said. "That hasn’t changed. We look forward to the opportunity to go over. It’s another opportunity for us to measure ourselves and see where we are. I’m OK with the results as long as our best effort is put forth. I expect our kids to do that.

"They’re excited about the opportunity. Coming off of the two road wins that we’ve had this year, can only give us some added confidence going into these places to play."

Through three games, the Rebels rank sixth among SEC teams in scoring offense (38.0 ppg) and tied for fourth in total offense (490.0), led by junior quarterback Bo Wallace and senior running back Jeff Scott.

Wallace has accounted for seven touchdowns and ranks sixth in total offense (256.0), while Scott was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after the Texas game, as he set career highs with 164 rushing yards and 243 all-purpose yards.

"We can put points on them," Wallace said. "We can put points on anybody. We just have to show up and play. It's the same thing every week. Let's stay on schedule, control the tempo and don't have any turnovers."

Ole Miss has played 11 true freshmen this season, which is tied for 10th-most among Division I FBS team, with huskie Tony Conner, tight end Evan Engram, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil each having started at least one game so far.

Both sides of the ball will be bolstered with the return of junior wide receiver Vince Sanders and senior cornerback Charles Sawyer, and the expected return of sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche.

This marks the 61st meeting between Ole Miss and Alabama dating back to 1894. The Crimson Tide holds a 46-9-2 series lead, including last year's 33-14 win in Tuscaloosa, while the Rebels' last win over the Tide was in 2003.

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