The Rebels’ offense did not stress the Crimson Tide defense in a way no team had all season. Quite the opposite, in fact. No. 1 Alabama held No. 12 Ole Miss to a season-low 291 yards and made three game-changing stops on fourth down.
Lane Kiffin did not become the first former assistant coach to take down Nick Saban. Instead, Saban moved to 24-0 against teams led by one of his old assistants.
Ole Miss did not upset the apple cart and bring complete and total anarchy to the SEC West, the SEC as a whole and the College Football Playoff. Alabama’s 42-21 win reaffirmed the Tide’s place as one of the two behemoth teams, joining Georgia, that have lapped the rest of the Football Bowl Subdivision just one week into October.
And perhaps most of all, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral did not use a dominant performance against the Crimson Tide to vault into the driver’s seat for the Heisman Trophy.
The quarterback matchup pitched as the game’s biggest key and as the best of the regular season went in the favor of Alabama sophomore Bryce Young, who threw for 241 yards and two scores to pace the 21-point win and is now the unquestioned player to beat in the Heisman race.
One year after his predecessor, Mac Jones, put together the best statistical season by a passer in program history, Young has played with a level of composure and production that belies his inexperience.
The five-star recruit now has 17 touchdowns against two interceptions while completing 72.9% of his attempts on 9.2 yards per throw. Across the board, Young has put up huge numbers as the quarterback for the nation’s top-ranked team — the perfect ingredients for an unbeatable Heisman case.
That he outperformed Corral and keyed a 21-point win against an unbeaten opponent gives Young a head-to-head win against his biggest Heisman threat and expands the gap between the sophomore and the rest of the field.
But given how Corral played and with eight or more games left until the end of the regular season, Young’s lead is not insurmountable.
While held out of the end zone until Alabama had already built a 35-0 lead, Corral shouldn’t shoulder the blame for the Rebels’ loss, which instead falls on a defense that has improved since last season but failed to slow an opponent that found some momentum on the ground after a spotty start to the regular season.
Corral finished with 21 completions in 29 attempts for 213 yards and two scores, one on the ground, without an interception. Since 2014, only two quarterbacks facing off against Alabama have completed more than 65% of their attempts with at least one touchdown and no interceptions: Joe Burrow, who did so during his Heisman winning 2019 season, and Corral — who has now done so in each of the last two seasons.
With games ahead against Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M, Corral also will have several marquee opportunities to rally back into the Heisman lead, or at least secure a place among the finalists in December. But the trophy is now Young’s to lose.
Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg