History of the Rivalry: Ole MissBy Michael Schwartz | 09/15/2016 1:35am
Cam Sims evades a tackle during Alabama's 2015 season loss to Ole Miss.
By Michael Schwartz | Staff Reporter
Coaches tell their players it's just one game to get them into the right frame of mind, but when it's a matchup against a longtime rival, the pressure gets amplified and the stakes are raised. Bragging rights are in jeopardy, and the right to stand tall is at risk.
The Alabama-Mississippi rivalry predates the innovation of flight by the Wright brothers and the invention of air conditioning. In the all-time series, Alabama leads 47-11-2, but a sudden surge by the Rebels, in the form of back-to-back wins, has the state of Mississippi salivating over another possible upset in Oxford this weekend.
The rivalry was born on Oct. 27, 1894, when the Rebels of Mississippi defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 6-0. Since that day in Jackson, Mississippi, the seed of animosity was planted between the teams and still resonates today. After losing that first contest, the Crimson Tide would go on to win 21 of the next 24 matchups against Mississippi, including shutting out Ole’ Miss ten times. A perhaps even more absurd statistic from that stretch is that Alabama was able to shut out the Rebels for seven consecutive games.
Like all great rivalries, there are classic games that are ingrained in the memories of both of the fan bases. Whether it is the recollection of a triumphant win, or the remembrance of turmoil, those games make the matchups sweeter every year. One of those classic games would go on to make history and lead to the national exposure of the SEC on live television.
On Oct. 4, 1969, college football was being played on primetime television for the first time since the SEC’s inception. What followed was a showdown between two top 25 teams, and a good ole’ fashion shootout at Legion Field. Quarterback Scott Hunter led the Crimson Tide into battle that night against red-hot Archie Manning who led the Ole’ Miss team.
The stage was set and the teams did not disappoint. For the Rebels, Archie Manning threw for 436 yards and ran for another 104 yards to score a total of five touchdowns. Just like that, Manning became the first quarterback to ever throw for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 yards in a single game.
In a game that seemed to be controlled by the Mississippi offense, Alabama was given one last shot to take down their foes. Late in the fourth quarter, the Alabama offense faced a fourth end goal at the Mississippi 14 yard line, and after a timeout Scott Hunter threw a dagger to wide receiver George Ranager in the end zone to clinch a victory for the Crimson Tide on prime time.
Leaping forward to today, the Crimson Tide and Rebels are still battling it out on the gridiron. The 2015 edition of the matchup featured a roller coaster of emotions for both teams and ended with a victory for Ole Miss, 43-37. Quarterbacks Jake Coker of Alabama and Chad Kelly each accounted for four touchdowns, and Coker did not even start the game for the Crimson Tide. The energy in Bryant-Denny stadium that night was tangible and the late comeback led by Coker amplified the crowd's emotion and sent them into a frenzy. Following the high of a comeback attempt came the crushing blow of disappointment, as much like in 2014, a late interception doomed the Crimson Tide.
Now having back-to-back wins over Alabama, the Rebels have gained momentum in this memorable rivalry. With another clash of the two teams looming, the game will have an impact on not only a SEC level, but on a national level. If history has taught us anything about the showdowns between the Rebels and the Crimson Tide, it is this; this rivalry delivers a playoff type intensity, and as a fan of the game, what more could you want?