We already knew Alabama would begin next season with a neutral-site game against the Duke Blue Devils at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. It will mark the seventh consecutive year UA has opened the season with a neutral-site contest and the sixth time in the Nick Saban era that the Tide has opened the season in Atlanta.
Ole Miss blowout loss to Alabama shows how far it has to climb
It was also established the Crimson Tide would welcome New Mexico State, Southern Miss and Western Carolina to Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2019. And while the SEC slate was already determined, we learned the dates for the conference games Tuesday.
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South Carolina is the new team in the mix from the SEC East, along with traditional rival Tennessee. The Tide will travel to Columbia, S.C., on Sept. 14, for the first time since the 2010 season. Flipping the locations from this season, Alabama will travel to Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn, while hosting Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss and Arkansas.
In total, Alabamas 2019 football schedule includes seven games at Bryant-Denny Stadium, plus a neutral-site game against a Power 5 opponent and four Southeastern Conference road games.
The Crimson Tides bye week situation has changed, however, and will fall on the weekends of Oct. 5 and Nov. 2. With 14 playing weekends, the SECs 2019 football schedule includes two open dates for each team and conference contests scheduled each week.
Each SEC team will play eight conference football games to include six games against division opponents and two games against non-division opponents. One of the non-division opponents will be a permanent annual opponent and the other non-division opponent will rotate each year.
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The season begins the weekend of Aug. 31 with 13 games, including four neutral site games on opening weekend.
In 2017, A&M averaged a mere 3.9 adjusted yards per carry against SEC opponents, a shade lower than the Aggies season average that was 10th among the conferences 14 schools. On the eve of a road test against the defending national champions, nobody has to tell Sutherland or the rest of the offensive line that it needs to help the rushing attack become more effective.
The 2019 season will culminate with the SEC Championship Game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 7. It will be the 28th edition of the game and the 26th in Atlanta.
The numbers indicated a more significant problem for the Aggies last season. From 2016 to 2017, A&M saw a nearly 36 percent drop in adjusted yards per carry as the Aggies spent most of last year trying to find the right starting combination on a young offensive line.
Share Share Ole Miss blowout loss to Alabama shows how far it has to climb tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Photo by Getty Images/illustration by Red Cup Rebellion Theres a scene in the most recent iteration of Godzilla in which the scaly behemoth, having gruesomely decapitated its foe and destroyed most of downtown San Francisco, quietly recedes into the Pacific Ocean as if nothing at all unusual has happened (for a 100-ton super-mutant, destroying a great American metropolis is just another Tuesday). As the tail slips beneath the water, it leaves in its wake a shaken and horrified populace surrounded by the smoking rubble of its city.
Thats about where Ole Miss fans find themselves after Nick Sabans crimson colossus lumbered through Oxford on Saturday night, leaving behind a 62-7 scoreboard and a forced reassessment of expectations for this years Rebel football team.
“Weve got to continue to grow. Weve got to learn how to chip better. And the big thing is not over-set and know where your help is. I think in pass protection, just like in run blocking, all the holds were not understanding where our help is and how to use our help. And the holds we got in the pass game were the same way,” Fisher said.
Even the most optimistic of Rebel fans didnt expect to win on Saturday—this years Tide appears to be historically good even by Bama standards, with the most recent radioactive mutation having added one of the countrys best QBs to an already brutally effective offense. But the Ole Miss faithful hoped to at least see progress—some sort of measurable gain that would chart a path out of the scandal-swept wasteland in which the program has wandered for the past two years. With Jordan Taamu throwing to the countrys best trio of wideouts from behind a seasoned offensive line, there was warranted optimism that Ole Miss could keep things close for at least a couple of quarters. But after an electrifying D.K. Metcalf touchdown on the opening play from scrimmage, the game was no more competitive than last years 66-3 drubbing in Tuscaloosa.
For Rebel fans, it was a sobering reminder of just how far the program has fallen from the peak Hugh Freeze years. Just three years ago, Ole Miss was celebrating on the field in Bryant-Denny Stadium after knocking off the Tide for the second straight season. Bama won a year later, but it was a tightly contested shootout that the Rebels led 24-3 at one point.
Still, the Aggies are confident in their pass defense. A&M is holding opponents to 251.0 yards per game and have only allowed four passing touchdowns. A&M recorded its first interception of the season last week against ULM, and the Aggies have 12 pass breakups.
Those games seemed like ancient history on Saturday as Bamas Tua Tagovailoa fired in his second touchdown pass of the night, making it 28-7 barely 10 minutes into the first quarter. The conversations between most Ole Miss fans from that point forward have, for good reason, revolved around defensive ineptitude. Just a week after surrendering 38-first half points to an FCS team, the Rebels defense was drug around the field like a half-dead antelope in the jaws of a leopard. The Tide snapped the neck early with touchdowns on four of its first five possessions, then pawed the carcass for another three quarters. The final numbers: 535 yards, 7.4 yards per play and a 46 percent success rate.
For as bad as the defense was, though, the lame-duck offensive showing is even more concerning. We knew defensive coordinator Wesley McGriffs unit would get mauled, but Phil Longos offense was expected to put up a fight. After Metcalf raced in for his 75-yard opening score, however, the Rebels averaged just 3.4 yards per play and never again passed the Bama 40-yard line.
The offense has been prolific since Taamu slid into the drivers seat midway through last season, but the majority of that success has come against bad defenses. Heres what I wrote last week:
By the time Taamu started his first game last season, Alabama, Auburn and LSU were already in the rearview. Of the seven opponents faced since then, only Mississippi State ended the 2017 season ranked higher than 70th in the nation in defensive S&P+. That list includes an Arkansas defense that ranked 112th, a Louisiana-Lafayette defense that ranked 125th and an FCS squad.
Taamu and Co. are much better than they played on Saturday, and they wont face a defensive unit as talented as Bamas for the rest of the year. Still, their complete ineffectiveness doesnt generate much confidence heading into a schedule that includes LSU (sixth nationally in defensive S&P+), Auburn (12th) and Mississippi State (21st). If Ole Miss is going to hang in those games, its going to have to pile up points.
The Rebels 2015 win in Tuscaloosa—which was followed two months later by the programs first Sugar Bowl win since Archie Manning was throwing passes—was in many ways the high-water mark of the Rebel resurgence under Freeze. That night, with future NFL first-rounders Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell and Robert Nkemdiche making plays all over the field, Ole Miss appeared to be closing the talent gap between itself and the upper crust of the SEC.
Ole Miss will probably bounce back to a degree—keep in mind that after losing by a combined score of 140-50 to Bama, Auburn and LSU last season, the Rebs won three of their last four contests to finish 6-6. The offense will still be fun and will still score a boatload of points in most of its games. There are still reasons for optimism.
But the beatdown by Bama serves as a terse reminder that the program faces a long, hard road to again compete with the conferences elite.