Alabama vs. Ole Miss score, takeaways: No. 9 Tide survive No. 11 Rebels behind Bryce Young’s three TDs

No. 9 Alabama rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to top No. 11 Ole Miss 30-24 in a pivotal SEC West matchup Saturday afternoon in Oxford, Mississippi. Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart missed Jonathan Mingo in the end zone on fourth-and-16 from the 20-yard line to essentially end the game and hand the Crimson Tide a much-needed win after coach Nick Saban’s squad lost two of the previous three. 

Alabama star quarterback Bryce Young tossed three touchdowns as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner once again made several spectacular plays to keep his team in the game. Young’s heroics helped set up kicker Will Reichard for a 49-yard field goal with 2:02 left to give the Tide a 6-point lead, which proved important because it forced Ole Miss to try for a touchdown inside of the red zone with under a minute to play rather than giving the Rebels the chance to kick a field goal to force overtime.

Reichard’s 23-yard field goal with 11:19 remaining to break a 24-24 tie came on the back of an eight-play, 44-yard drive following an Ole Miss shanked punt. Running back Jase McClellan had four carries for 35 yards on the drive after stepping in for an ineffective Jahmyr Gibbs as Alabama’s primary rusher. 

Young tied the game late in the third quarter when he rolled out and found Ja’Corey Brooks in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown, capping a 14-play, 75-yard drive that coach Saban’s crew desperately needed after its defense faced 59 plays through the first two-plus quarters.

The late charge from the Tide to get the win came after the Rebels virtually controlled the first three quarters. True freshman Quinshon Judkins scored two touchdowns in the first half, giving him 15 for the season — an Ole Miss single season record. His second touchdown — a 1-yard plunge with 5:09 to play in the second quarter — gave the Rebels a 17-7 lead.

Here are the takeaways from Alabama’s win over Ole Miss:

Young continues to show leadership

It’s commonplace to label the reigning Heisman Trophy winner the MVP of a close win over a ranked team, but Young deserves a ton of credit here. HIs three touchdown passes were the most since Sept. 24, when he tossed four in a 55-3 win over Vanderbilt. Yes, the lingering effects of a shoulder injury suffered against Arkansas on Oct. 1 have clearly impacted him; however, his ability to hit downfield shots and move in the pocket to cash in touchdowns instead of field goals played a huge roll in this win. 

More importantly, Young continues to show tremendous leadership. CBS Sports cameras caught Young firing up his offensive line following a botched fourth-and-1 at the end of the first quarter in which half the line thought a play was called, while the other half thought the plan was to let the clock run out. Though Saban was in the middle of that sideline huddle as well, it was Young doing all of the talking. 

That fire is something that has been missing from this Alabama team over the last month or so, but Young provided it on Saturday afternoon. In the process, he might have saved his team’s chances at a New Year’s Six bowl berth. 

Jase is on the case (for RB1)

Gibbs came into Saturday’s game as the Crimson Tide’s unquestioned No. 1 running back, but he was off against the Rebels. The Georgia Tech transfer had 3 yards on six carries in the first half and just one catch for 5 yards. Saban made the switch to Jase McClellan at halftime, and it was a decision that likely won the game. 

McClellan had 19 carries for 84 yards, and three of those touches were explosive plays of 10 yards or more. McClellan provided much-needed balance to an offense that was decidedly one-dimensional in the first half, allowing the Ole Miss defense to tee off on an Alabama offensive line that has struggled throughout the season.

Is McClellan the new No. 1 running back? We’ll see. Saban made a bold statement by benching Gibbs, so it’s clear that he’s open to any and all options. 

Judkins should be SEC Freshman of the Year

LSU linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. is making a late charge for the honor, but Judkins has been doing it all year. The native of Pike Road, Alabama, had 135 yards and two touchdowns against an Alabama team that didn’t recruit him hard in high school. He entered the game averaging 114.89 yards on the ground, making him one of only two players in the conference (Arkansas’ Raheim Sanders) to average at least 100 yards per game. It was Judkins’ seventh 100-yard performance of the season in an offense founded on establishing the run and using tempo to take the top off of opposing defenses. 

The Rebels are still in line to make a New Year’s Six bowl game it they win out, and Judkins deserves a ton of credit for that.

Another ‘Young’ stands out

Alabama EDGE threat Will Anderson Jr. has had the national spotlight all season, but nobody else up front for the Crimson Tide seemed to get any love. That changed on Saturday when Byron Young had the game of his life. The 6-foot-3, 292-pound senior from Laurel, Mississippi, had 11 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, a pass breakup, two quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. To put it more succinctly: He was a monster.

Without Young, Alabama likely wouldn’t have slowed down the Ole Miss rushing attack in the second half, and Bryce Young would have had to do even more to avoid the upset. Byron Young did the dirty work for most of the season, but he spent his time in the spotlight destroying the Ole Miss defensive line on Saturday afternoon in Oxford. 

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