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Alabama earns gritty win vs. Ole Miss

It’s been a long week for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

A sluggish effort against South Florida last week that saw the starting quarterback benched and only a 14-point win over a team they were infinitely more talented than has led to rhetoric around the Crimson Tide that we have not seen in a very long time.

Has Nick Saban lost his touch? Is the Alabama dynasty over? Is this season going to fly completely off the rails?

Saban shut down any questions at the quarterback position early this week by naming Jalen Milroe the starter once again. For better or worse, both he and the team believe he is the best option.

And it certainly was not all pretty for Milroe against Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon. An ugly interception in the end zone followed up by a complete inability to get in the end zone for much of the first three quarters had Alabama fans thinking “here we go again” with regard to Milroe.

But something flipped for the Crimson Tide in the second half. Suddenly, they were able to run the ball effectively. Jalen Milroe did what he needed to do as a passer and avoided turnovers en route to multiple scoring drives.

But the story of the night for Alabama is defense. It was one of the most suffocating defensive efforts for the Crimson Tide in recent memory, holding a prolific Rebels offense to just 10 points and zero touchdowns after the first drive.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Alabama’s showing on defense was their efficiency on third down. The Crimson Tide held Lane Kiffin’s offense to just 3 of 14 on third down conversions.

Another eye-popping stat for the defense is just how great they were against the run. It’s important to note the fact that Ole Miss sophomore running back Quinshon Judkins is one of the best in the nation, and the Tide held him to just 56 yards rushing.

It was a gritty overall effort from an Alabama team that was desperate for a big win. With their backs against the wall, Alabama quit being bullied around and flexed their muscles against a team they were better than.

For the first time all season against a quality opponent, it felt like Crimson Tide football.

Yes, this team is not perfect. Far from it, in fact. But they showed heart today and did not roll over when it appeared they were about to.

Alabama must continue to get better, but maybe today was the first step towards fixing things in Tuscaloosa.

You can follow Michael Brauner on Twitter @MBraunerWNSP

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