Franchione, Tide looking to even score with Rebels
By By Joey Vaughn/special to The Star
October 19, 2002
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. For No. 21 Ole Miss, it's a chance to stay in the lead in the SEC West race.
No. 24 Alabama, which can't go to the conference title game due to NCAA sanctions, has a twofold motivation for beating the Rebels at 2:30 Saturday afternoon: Play the spoiler, and more importantly, avenge last year's 27-24 loss in Oxford.
Alabama coach Dennis Franchione said last year's result gave his team, 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the SEC, "tremendous" motivation.
The Crimson Tide had an open week after a 27-25 home loss to Georgia to get ready for the Rebels, who've won only once in Tuscaloosa. Conventional wisdom is that the extra week of preparation gets a team very prepared for a
game, but Franchione said that's not always the case.
Both of the Tide's losses came in close games against Top 5 teams.
Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe, whose team enters the game tied for the West lead at 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference, knows what kind of challenge his team faces.
It's that offensive line that paves the way for Tide backs to rush for 226 yards per game, while the defense holds opponents to just 96. Shaud Williams and Santonio Beard lead the team on the ground. Franchione won't reveal if
Tyler Watts will play after hurting his knee against Southern Miss. Brodie Croyle has filled in wonderfully for Watts, leading the team to a win over Arkansas and keeping the Tide in the game until the end against Georgia.
Alabama may be an 11-point favorite, but Franchione insists his team won't take Ole Miss for granted, especially in light of last year's game.
team. Nationally ranked, on a roll, playing with a lot of confidence, good offense, great quarterback. The defense is improved and improving every week. It's easy to see."