At this point last season, Alabama looked unbeatable. This year, coach Nick Saban appears to have a team that can be had.
I’ll stop short of calling for the outright upset today in Tuscaloosa, but I’m bullish on Mississippi as a double-digit underdog.
Since taking over as coach, Hugh Freeze has taken the Rebels on the road eight times and cashed tickets at a 7-1 against-the-spread clip.
Mississippi has an outstanding quarterback in Bo Wallace, who has produced 768 yards (648 passing, 120 rushing) through three games. Wallace has four touchdown passes without an interception, and he also has three rushing scores.
He has one of the nation’s best group of wide receivers, led by Donte Moncrief, a future first-round NFL Draft pick with excellent size and blazing speed. Evan Engram and Laquon Treadwell also will challenge Alabama’s secondary.
There’s also dynamic running back Jeff Scott, who beat Vanderbilt in the season opener with a 75-yard touchdown run late in the game. Scott put the exclamation point on a 44-23 win at Texas with a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown.
The Rebels played the Crimson Tide tough at Bryant-Denny Stadium last season, pulling to within 20-14 late in the third quarter. Alabama got a special-teams score and two field goals to pull away, but Mississippi easily took the cash and has covered the number in four consecutive trips to Tuscaloosa.
If top-ranked Alabama doesn’t play its “A” game, we could see an upset. The line dropped from 16 to 14½ in the past two days.
Five more plays for today (home team in CAPS):
■ Florida State (-23) over BOSTON COLLEGE — The Seminoles have not played an opponent of note, and that won’t change here. Boston College is horrible, and freshman quarterback Jameis Winston will light up the Eagles early and often in a blowout. Florida State has won by margins of 28, 55 and 48 points.
■ Louisiana State (+3) over GEORGIA — The Tigers appear to be the better team. The fact that LSU was written off coming into the season has been a driving force in its 4-0 start. Look for running back Jeremy Hill to gash the Bulldogs’ defense for more than 150 yards. Tigers coach Les Miles should score the minor upset.
■ Texas A&M-ARKANSAS (Over 62) — The Aggies’ four games have produced point totals of 83, 93, 91 and 55. Texas A&M scored 58 on Arkansas last season, and quarterback Johnny Manziel is showing no signs of slowing. Expect the Razorbacks to run the ball effectively and do their part. I made this number 67.
■ Oklahoma (-3½) over NOTRE DAME — Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly doesn’t have a good team. The Sooners go to South Bend, Ind., seeking revenge for a 30-13 loss to Notre Dame last season. Oklahoma, which had two weeks to prepare, will win by at least one touchdown.
■ Wisconsin-OHIO STATE (Over 55) — Big plays and points are going to come in bunches. The Buckeyes are averaging 52.5 points and the Badgers 41.0. Wisconsin will get explosive plays out of sophomore running back Melvin Gordon, who leads the nation in rushing with 624 yards and averages 11.8 yards per carry.
Last week: 4-1 against the spread
Brian Edwards of Sportsmemo.com and BrianEdwardsSports.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.