Ole Miss vs. Alabama Odds & Pick for Week 5: Your College Football Betting Guide for This Matchup
Getty Images. Pictured: Lane Kiffin (left) and Nick Saban.
Ole Miss vs. Alabama Odds
|Ole Miss Odds||+15 (-105)|
|Alabama Odds||-15 (-115)|
|Moneyline||+500 / -720|
|Over/Under||80 (-110 / -110)|
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.|
The ultimate chess match gets a second round after last year’s 63-48 Crimson Tide victory over the Rebels on a wet track in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Although the score indicates a comfortable win, Ole Miss covered the 23.5-point spread easily after no team had larger than a touchdown lead until late in the fourth quarter.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban was surprised to see Ole Miss rush three and drop into coverage, a scheme that was required against one of the best offensive campaigns in college football history. That scheme has changed, as Saban noted there is more of an Iowa State look.
Saban is now 23-0 against former assistants, something that Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin praised of his former boss. While Kiffin has had to deal with media personalities calling him a “clown,” he has maintained his closeness with Saban and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.
While this column will break down the on-field strategies, remember that both of these coaches know what the point spread is and every second on the clock is a chance to cover.
Ole Miss vs. Alabama Betting Preview
Heisman Showcase for Matt Corral
For quarterback Matt Corral to have any shot at the Heisman Trophy, this will be the biggest weekend of the season.
Kiffin mentioned in his weekly press conference that despite the sentiment that Ole Miss is a pure passing team, the Rebels are not opposed to running the ball.
Last season, Ole Miss ran exclusively out of the 11 formations with a 52% pass call. Kiffin called for 10 personnel on just five plays the entire season, but in 2021, the formation has been called 58 times. While the 11 has moved from a 48% rush formation to 56%, the 10 formation is where Ole Miss calls 64% pass.
Matt Corral🎯 pic.twitter.com/6GgeZNxEJe
— College Cutups (@CutupsCollege) September 29, 2021
The 10 formations roll without a tight end and give Corral the chance to flash a zone-read rush attempt before looking downfield in a hybrid play-action pass fashion. This formation also allows Corral to take off on designed quarterback runs, with his highest number of ground attempts coming against Tulane.
The subtle changes in run-pass philosophy are intentional leading up to Alabama, as the Crimson Tide primary weakness has been the interior of the defensive line. Both Phidarian Mathis and Christian Barmore rank outside the top 100 in run defense among all FBS defensive interior players.
Corral has been most successful on passing plays between the hash marks from 0-20 yards, going 35-of-48 with a heavy amount of play-action passing.
When Jerrion Ealy is not creating missed tackles in the run game, expect the running back and slot wide receiver Dontario Drummond to continue their average of seven yards or less on depth of target to attack the most vulnerable area on the field for the Tide.
Dontario Drummond had a big game last night. A name to watch as this season continues. He seems to be Corral’s top target.
• 8 catches
• 168 yards
• 1 TDpic.twitter.com/GOm6qN2xHl
— Damian Parson 🏈 (@DP_NFL) September 7, 2021
Breaking News: OIe Miss Has a Defense
The most surprising aspect of the 2021 season for Kiffin is a revamped defense that ranked outside the top 100 in almost every statistical category last season.
Sam Williams has improved on the defensive line, providing four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Both edge rusher Cedric Johnson and transfer linebacker Chance Campbell have combined for 16 quarterback hurries, an amazing transformation after Johnson, who had just three hurries in 99 pass-rush snaps last season.
The defense has taken on a new look along with increased efficiency. Co-coordinators D.J. Durkin and Chris Partridge have tweaked the defensive scheme to with plays split between a 3-2-6 and 2-3-6 and a minimal amount of blitz. The results have shown an increase in defending explosiveness.
Through games against offenses that have big-play elements — Tulane and Louisville — the Rebels are 12th in defensive passing expected points. The biggest change with the new scheme is a rank of sixth in Passing Downs Explosiveness, a key component against quarterback Bryce Young, who is 5-of-18 in passing attempts over 20 yards.
From Sarkisian to O’Brien
The expectation in the handoff of the offensive coordinator position from Steve Sarkisian to Bill O’Brien would be no schematic changes.
Whether that has changed due to personnel or coaching philosophy, Alabama is running a much lower rate of two-tight end sets. A 50-50 split in 2020 has moved to 70% on in 11 formations, making the Alabama offense a bit more predictable. The Crimson Tide are passing the ball 63% of snaps in 11 and running the ball 63% of snaps in 12.
Offensive variations are a calculation of scheme and pre-snap motion along with tracking of play-action and screens. Alabama averages 22 variations per game this season, a large downward trend from 29 under Sarkisian in 2020.
BRYCE TO BILLINGSLEY.
Touchdown Bama. pic.twitter.com/cMfuzdJDia
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 18, 2021
Florida dominated the trench in Gainesville, but tight end play has provided plenty of big plays for Alabama. Jahleel Billingsley should have more targets after early off-field troubles, while Cameron Latu has been the most successful third-down target, moving the chains on five of six passing plays.
Saban specified that Young distributes the ball based on trust, and that could lead to more looks to each of the tight ends.
The biggest question is the passing game struggles downfield. As with any freshman, Young has been most comfortable throwing behind the line of scrimmage with a perfect 33-of-33 on the season.
John Metchie III, Slade Bolden and JoJo Earle have an average depth of target at 6.5 yards, but it’s no surprise that Alabama fields three of the top 100 players in yards after reception.
Full Speed for Henry To’o To’o
Henry To’o To’o has been electric as advertised, leading the team with 19 tackles. The Tennessee transfer came down with an illness for the trip to Gainesville, but he has been consistently praised by Saban for his knowledge of the scheme and calling out alignment pre-snap.
At middle linebacker, To’o To’o will have the primary responsibility of playing spy on Corral.
Great play by Henry To’o To’o. Rushes outside to avoid block. Slow plays Jones to make him hesitate and then makes the tackle on the pitch pic.twitter.com/qN99cPLhmV
— Joe Broback (@joebroback) September 28, 2021
Alabama plays the majority of their defensive snaps in 2-4-5, allowing To’o To’o to roam between the tackles as edge rusher Will Anderson plays a one-man wrecking crew. The sophomore is second in the nation in tackles for loss per game and has generated 15 defensive pressures this season.
While the two anchor the run defense, Alabama continues to lead the nation in key categories with a rank of 16th in Havoc and sixth in tackling, according to Pro Football Focus.
Ole Miss vs. Alabama Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Ole Miss and Alabama match up statistically:
Ole Miss Offense vs. Alabama Defense
Alabama Offense vs. Ole Miss Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Ole Miss vs. Alabama Betting Pick
With a final score that exceeded 110 points last season, Saban may not have the best interest in keeping this game at the speed of a boat race.
Alabama is loaded on offense, but there are significant differences between this roster and an all-time national champion from 2020.
Alabama is content to have its quarterback generate plays from behind the line of scrimmage. Brian Robinson is healthy and averaging 4.1 yards after contact, giving O’Brien the option of using the running game to eat clock.
The Ole Miss defense is prepared to sell out to stop the explosive play, but Alabama has no issues sustaining drives and leaning its national No. 7 ranking in finishing drives. At a pace of 100th in plays per minute, the Crimson Tide will do everything to keep the Ole Miss offense off the field.
The Action Network projection for the total is 74, making a play on the under a clear investment. If Alabama is successful in slowing the clock, a tactic used against Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff semifinal last season, live bettors may not have a chance for a post kickoff under.
While the Ole Miss defense excels in limiting explosiveness on passing downs, the offense is as fast and as explosive as advertised. The Rebels rank in the top 10 in plenty of categories from Rushing Success Rate, big play percentage, Havoc Allowed and Line Yards.
Most importantly, this is the top offense in the nation in Standard Downs Explosiveness. Expect quick changes to the Crimson Tide defense if first-and-10 or second-and-7 turn into chunk yardage for the Rebels.
The market responded with max-limit bets on the Ole Miss opener, driving a +20 down to the current number of +14.5. Considering the Rebels have yet to play a true road game in a hostile environment, this may be the best buy-low point on an Alabama team that lacks the 2020 offensive explosiveness.
That still does not negate an offense that is more than doubling the national average in explosive drives or a defense that is top 10 with six-plus three-and-outs per game.
The Action Network projects the game at -14 in favor of Alabama. The Crimson Tide are the pregame buy, and there is a possibility Ole Miss throws haymakers to start the game, providing a better Crimson Tide live number.
Ultimately, the strength of the Alabama defense is a solid coverage unit in the back seven with Anderson and To’o To’o being two of the best players at their position in all of college football.
Pick: Under 79 or better | Alabama -14 (-120 or better)
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