On a bizarre night in Tuscaloosa, Nick Saban's Alabama team ran 101 plays, the up-tempo team Ole Miss ran 65, and for the third time in the Tide's past six games they allowed 42 points or more.
No. 15 Ole Miss knocked off the No. 2 Tide for the second year in a row on Saturday, this time in a 43-37 shootout with the home team plagued by five turnovers and suffering its first loss at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 18 games.
There were great plays, fluky plays and wild plays, but the looming question with the Tide proved to be a problem it couldn't overcome.
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Shaky QB play.
Saban gave Cooper Bateman his first career start because he thought the sophomore's speed would be a nice change of pace, he said after the game. The Alabama coach also said it would give them an "element of surprise." Against the Rebels, Bateman and senior Jake Coker, who'd started the Tide's first two games of the season, combined for three interceptions to give them five in the past two weeks.
Some will see Saturday night's home loss as the next sign that Saban's dynasty is crumbling. I'm not ready to go that far. I think this program still has too much talent at too many places on its roster, but I do buy that this is a team struggling to find an identity and treading water without an established starting QB. Maybe after Saturday night, it'll be Coker's team. Maybe not.
Alabama has a terrific tailback in Derrick Henry and a good O-line, but without a go-to guy like Amari Cooper at receiver, this team is too one-dimensional and not a "great" team. It's a very good team, but it's going to have to improve a lot if it hopes to make the playoff again. Meanwhile, Ole Miss is better than it was last year. So is LSU. A&M certainly is too. And Georgia might be as well.
As for the Rebels, Hugh Freeze deserves credit. He not only landed all those blue-chippers, he's proven he can win pressure games and keep defenses off balance with all his run-pass option plays. His new QB Chad Kelly took another step in establishing himself, throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns and scoring on a 4-yard run. Former all-world recruit and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche was dominant at times. Unlike 'Bama, Ole Miss certainly looked like a legit playoff contender in Week 3, but this is just one step for the Rebels.
Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FOX Sports 1. He is also a New York Times Bestselling author. His new book, The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks, came out in October, 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB and Facebook.