The No. 13 Alabama Crimson Tide are out of the top 10 for the first time since 2015 as they prepare for No. 15 Ole Miss Saturday.
The last time Alabama had two losses before the month of October was 2007, and Lane Kiffin and the Rebels are a legitimate threat to knock the Crimson Tide out of the national championship picture altogether.
Alabama is coming off a subpar performance against South Florida after losing to Texas at home in Week 2, but head coach Nick Saban expects his team to play better against Ole Miss Saturday.
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“We'll respond. We've got a better team than the way we played last week,” Saban told ESPN Thursday. “I don't know if we've got a good enough team to beat Ole Miss or anybody else we play, but we've got a better team than we played last week. Texas has a damn good team, probably one of the best five teams in the country, and we were ahead of them in the fourth quarter.
“I like this team. I like this group. They've worked hard. They've got a good attitude about things. We just got to execute better and pay better attention to detail, and we've got some areas on our team that need to play better.”
There have been many who have questioned whether Alabama’s dominant run — six national championships under Saban — has come to an end after a slow start to the 2023 season.
“The standard here doesn't change, but this is also a test of your humility,” Saban said. “You say, ‘Hey, I don't care what anybody says. I know what the expectations are.' But, I mean, how many people have been able to go 16 years and not have a bump in the road?”
Saban will turn back to sophomore Jalen Milroe at quarterback after giving Ty Simpson and Tyler Buchner an opportunity against South Florida. Alabama managed just 17 points and just 107 passing yards in a 17-3 win.
The quarterback position has been a question mark ever since Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young declared for the 2023 NFL Draft.
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Saban made it clear on multiple occasions during the offseason that no quarterback had separated himself from the pack.
“It's not just the quarterback,” Saban said. “We've had a lot of different assistant coaches, coordinators and others coming and going, but that's part of it. The nature of the beast has changed, too, with the transfer portal. Other people get better quicker, and it also cuts into your depth.
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“So, it's a little bit different than sort of building and recruiting and developing players. It's all changed, which is why you have to keep changing and evolving.”
Alabama has won the last seven matchups with Ole Miss, and Kiffin is 0-4 against Saban as a head coach.