TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Coach Hugh Freeze and No. 21 Mississippi's offense aren't used to this kind of treatment.
The normally high-octane Rebels couldn't cash in on scoring chances or fourth-down attempts in Saturday night's 25-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama.
The result was the first shutout of the Rebels (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) since the Arkansas game in November 1998.
"We did not have answers to the stuff they were doing defensively," said Freeze, who couldn't recall the last time one of his offenses had been held scoreless. "That's very frustrating and I take that pretty personal."
Ole Miss was seeking its first 4-0 start in 43 years and a statement win. Instead the Rebels dropped their 10th straight game to the SEC West power.
The Rebels' fast-paced offense came in averaging 38 points and 490 yards, but never got going and managed just 46 yards on 25 rushes. Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley made a tackle in the end zone in the fourth quarter for a safety, and Kenyan Drake's 50-yard touchdown came on the next play to seal the win for the Crimson Tide.
Jeff Scott, who was averaging 110 yards a game and 9.4 per carry, was held to 28 yards on eight attempts.
"They had the right call every single time, it seemed like," Freeze said. "Not what I anticipated happening tonight."
The Rebels still trailed just 9-0 at halftime before Alabama's running game got going.
T.J. Yeldon rushed for 121 yards and Drake gained 99 for the Tide (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference), which outgained the Rebels 434-205 in total yards to rebound from a lackluster game against Colorado State.
"It'll be huge for the confidence of our players," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
Yeldon scored on a 68-yard run and Drake added that 50-yard scamper to revive a struggling running game that came in ranked last in the league.
AJ McCarron completed 25 of 32 passes for 180 yards with an interception for Alabama, which had a second-half resurgence offensively. The Tide was held to 36 rushing yards in the opening half but gained another 218 on the ground before it was over even without center Ryan Kelly.
Saban said Kelly will miss two or three weeks with a knee injury.
Bo Wallace was 17-of-30 passing for 159 yards for the Rebels. Wallace had said early in the week that he believed "we can put points on anybody."
Alabama players took umbrage to a seemingly innocuous comment.
"We really wanted to stay in the game the whole time, especially after all the talking they did," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "We really didn't pay attention to it, but we still heard it. For us to leave a zero on the board, it did a lot of talking for us on the field."
Alabama's more plodding offensive style helped the Tide monopolize the ball for 38 minutes, 29 seconds.
Yeldon, who had 17 carries, breathed life into the running game on the second play after halftime. He burst through the line and spun away from a defender before winning a footrace to the end zone for a career-long 68-yard TD.
Alabama's offense repeatedly stalled early but Cade Foster hit field goals of 28, 42 and a career-long 53 yards.
His 42-yarder came on the final play of the half after Ole Miss helped Alabama move downfield over the last 3:09 with a pass interference penalty and two timeouts, hoping to get the ball back.
The Rebels had several gambles fail, converting just 1 of 4 fourth-down tries.
They had a chance to close the gap early in the fourth quarter when Cody Prewitt intercepted McCarron's pass at the Alabama 31. It was McCarron's third interception of the season, matching last year's total.
The Rebels made it to the 13 and got another shot thanks to a false start before Wallace's fourth-and-5 pass fell incomplete. Coach Hugh Freeze went for it again, but Deion Belue broke up the throw headed toward the goal line.
"Our bread and butter, they stopped it," Wallace said. "No doubt in my mind it was good to go for the first downs. In the red zone we have to do better.
"We had a chance. It was frustrating."