Alabama Football: Toughest Regular Season Games of 2022, Part 5

Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

An unpopular opinion of mine is that the November 12th game against Ole Miss could be the toughest test of 2022 for Alabama football.

Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels could be toughest Crimson Tide challenge

Many have written off Lane Kiffin’s squad after the departure of quarterback Matt Corral, as well as its top three running backs and top two receivers.

This is a massive loss of production, but Kiffin always seems to field a high-powered offense and he has reloaded with talent via the transfer portal.

Former USC quarterback Jaxson Dart will likely captain the offense, and former TCU running back Zach Evans could blossom into a star in the SEC. SMU transfer Ulysses Bentley will spell Evans, and tight end Michael Trigg formed a package deal with Dart. Trigg has a high ceiling as an athletic tight end that can both be a safety valve and generate explosive plays. He hopes to use these skills to fill the role that Kenny Yeboah provided the Ole Miss offense two years ago.

An even bigger project for Kiffin will be shoring up the porous defense the Rebels fielded last year. While I don’t think Ole Miss will finish the season as a better team than Texas A&M or even Arkansas, I could see this game being a tough one for the Crimson Tide for a few reasons.

Alabama Football: A Difficult Environment

Alabama will return to Oxford for this matchup. Much like Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, strange things seem to happen when Alabama goes to Vaught-Hemingway. Many remember the Rebels stealing back-to-back wins against the Crimson Tide in 2014 and 2015.

That 2014 game took place in Oxford, as did the 2016 and 2020 games that Alabama won despite massive defensive struggles. Both were bizarre, shootout-type games in which the Bama defense couldn’t seem to get a stop.

Kiffin always has a pocketful of tricks and gimmicks, and he will have some extra motivation after taking an embarrassing loss in the 2021 matchup between Bama and Ole Miss.

The game received a lot of hype, but ultimately was never close. Kiffin received criticism for his decision-making early in the matchup, repeatedly attempting to convert 4th downs and being turned away by the Alabama defense. Was this confident aggression, or anxious desperation?

It certainly seemed more like the latter, especially when Kiffin persisted with this bold strategy even after the first couple of failed attempts. Regardless of his motive, I expect Kiffin to take a much more levelheaded approach into this year’s contest.

Alabama Football: Tough Scheduling Break

The 2022 game at Ole Miss will be the second consecutive SEC road game for Alabama football, which goes to Baton Rouge the week before. The LSU crowd will be raucous and the game will be physical. Although it is not yet certain how good the Tigers will be, this game could take a toll on the Tide.

Alabama and Ole Miss typically do not play this late in the season, and it should make for an exciting game that potentially has SEC West implications. It’s too early to classify any opponent as a “trap game,” but I definitely don’t think the Rebels should be overlooked. Alabama football fans will probably be more concerned with LSU and Auburn come November, but Ole Miss has snuck up on the Tide before.

Fortunately, this Alabama team should be highly motivated. I expect the team to be laser-focused each and every week, regardless of its opponent. While it’s difficult to envision the 2022 Crimson Tide losing any games in the regular season, hard fought wins are essential to building the character of a championship team.

dark. Next. Quiet first day of SEC negotiations

It will be fascinating to see which opponents can test Alabama football this season.