Statement Time

Tuscaloosa, AL - Nick Saban has plenty of evidence at his disposal if he's having any trouble convincing Alabama not to take its next opponent lightly.

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The second-ranked Crimson Tide look to maintain their focus after a week off when they try to continue their dominance over Mississippi on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Oddsmakers from have made Alabama –13.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on Alabama –13.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

With last weekend off, the Tide (6-0, 3-0 SEC) had a chance to watch some other college football games - one of them being Texas' 45-35 victory over then-No. 1 Oklahoma that vaulted the Longhorns into the top spot in the poll. The Tide also saw Missouri and LSU fall from the ranks of the unbeaten over the weekend.

"I bet you a couple of people on (Oklahoma) were definitely looking past Texas, and look at what happened to them," Alabama junior defensive end Lorenzo Washington said. "You can't look past anybody in any conference in college football today because you can be beat."

Washington and the Tide want to avoid doing that against Mississippi (3-3, 1-2). Alabama has dominated the all-time series and has lost only once to the Rebels in Tuscaloosa, but Ole Miss stunned then-No. 4 Florida 31-30 in Gainesville on Sept. 27. It's the fifth-ranked Gators' only loss of the season.

If Saban wants to further drive the point home, Alabama's coach can turn on film from his team's last game, a 17-14 home win over Kentucky on Oct. 4. The Tide committed three turnovers, 10 penalties and 92 penalty yards - all season highs - in a contest that almost saw their national title hopes come to an end.

``They never gave up and we never put them away, and we had some chances,'' said Saban, 5-1 against Mississippi.

Alabama played that game also ranked at No. 2, its highest spot in the poll since 1993. Despite the lackluster performance, Saban likes what he's seen this week from his team, which has outscored opponents 88-0 in the first quarter this season.

"I was really pleased with the effort and the attitude that we had in these few days of practice," he told the school's official Web site. "I think we worked a lot fundamentally on things we need to improve. The players had a good attitude about it."

Glen Coffee had a career game against the Wildcats with 218 yards rushing and one touchdown on 25 carries. With 708 rushing yards and five TDs this season, the junior paces the SEC's top ground attack, which gains 226.3 yards per game.

Alabama's rush defense, which faces the conference's third-ranked rushing team in Ole Miss (163.0 yards per game), has been even more dominant. The Tide are allowing 50.8 yards per game on the ground, second-best in the nation behind TCU.

Senior John Parker Wilson struggled against Kentucky, going 7-of-17 for 106 yards with an interception and getting sacked three times. However, in two career games - both wins - against the Rebels, Wilson is a combined 42-of-68 for 471 yards with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 126.7.

Mississippi, which lost its last game 31-24 at home to South Carolina on Oct. 4, will have to improve its second-half performance if it hopes to defeat a second top-5 team on the road in four weeks. The Rebels managed just 129 yards and a field goal after halftime against the Gamecocks.

Turnovers have also plagued the Rebels, as they committed three versus South Carolina and 15 in their past five games.

"It's about turnover margin," Mississippi coach Houston Nutt said. "When you don't have turnovers, you win. When you go back and look at it in the turnover margins, the only team that beat us is ourselves by turning the ball over. You can't do that in this league."

Alabama leads the series with Ole Miss 44-9-2, and has won four straight meetings and 20 of the past 23. The only victory for Mississippi in Tuscaloosa came by a 22-12 score Oct. 8, 1988.

Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
ALABAMA is 9-7 against the spread versus OLE MISS since 1992
ALABAMA is 14-2 straight up against OLE MISS since 1992
6 of 12 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
OLE MISS is 2-0 against the spread versus ALABAMA over the last 3 seasons 
ALABAMA is 2-0 straight up against OLE MISS over the last 3 seasons 
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at ALABAMA since 1992
ALABAMA is 6-2 against the spread versus OLE MISS since 1992
ALABAMA is 8-0 straight up against OLE MISS since 1992
3 of 6 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at ALABAMA over the last 3 seasons.
OLE MISS is 1-0 against the spread versus ALABAMA over the last 3 seasons 
ALABAMA is 1-0 straight up against OLE MISS over the last 3 seasons 
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[CB] Marcus Temple missed last game %27?%27 - Foot - 10/04/08
[QB] Nick Fanuzzi has transferred. - None - 08/26/08
[WR] Mike McCoy missed last game %27?%27 - Hamstring - 10/04/08
[LB] Jimmy Johns has been suspended from the team. - Disciplinary - 07/01/
[LB] Ezekial Knight expected to miss entire season. - Illness - 07/17/08
[WR] Darius Hanks missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/04/08
[TE] Preston Dial missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/04/08

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Posted: 10/14/08 5:06 PM

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