Ad Spot

Eli hopes to roll by Tide like his father

By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Oct. 17, 2003
OXFORD Eli Manning will attempt to join his father Archie as the only Ole Miss quarterback to beat Alabama twice when the Rebels square off against the Crimson Tide on Saturday.
Like his father, Eli defeated Alabama as sophomore. Like no one since his father, Eli is trying to lead Ole Miss to a 3-0 start in Southeastern Conference play.
Unlike his father, though, the younger Manning was blown out in his second matchup against the Crimson Tide. Whereas Archie came up on the short end of a classic 33-32 game in Birmingham, Eli was pounded relentlessly by the Alabama pass rush as the Tide rolled 42-7.
If the 4-2 Rebels are to avoid that fate on Saturday, head coach David Cutcliffe said Ole Miss will have to be able to run the ball against an Alabama defense that is giving up less than 100 yards per game on the ground.
The Tide's rushing defense is a challenge few have been able to best. Only two teams Arkansas and Northern Illinois have eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground. A week ago, Alabama's defense held Southern Miss to only 17 rushing yards.
Ole Miss may have more luck through the air. The Crimson Tide, 3-4 on the year, has yielded more than 240 passing yards in three of their seven games. Meanwhile, Manning has not had fewer than 260 yards in any game and needs only 140 yards to move into 8th place on the SEC's all-time passing yardage list.
While Manning will be Shula's biggest concern, he is not overlooking the resurgent Ole Miss running game either. After struggling in their first two games, the Rebels have gained more than 160 yards rushing in each of their last four contests.
Last in the SEC in rushing yardage in 2002, Ole Miss now boasts the league's third-highest rushing average at 170 yards per game.
The Crimson Tide has a dangerous running game of its own. Senior running back Shaud Williams is the SEC's second-leading rusher, and his 822 yards ranks ninth in the nation."
The Rebels are coming off a 55-0 win against Arkansas State in which the defense allowed only 54 rushing yards on 28 carries. Though no one mistakes Alabama for Arkansas State, the Indians did have the nation's 16th-best rushing attack before playing Ole Miss. Against the Rebels, though, ASU was held to under 100 rushing yards for the first time all year.