TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -Turns out No. 2 Alabama plays pretty well from behind. It's playing from ahead that gave the
'Bama surged to a big halftime lead after trailing for the first time all season, then let most of it slip away before coming
up with a late defensive stand to hold off Mississippi for a 24-20 victory.
''That hadn't happened to us yet this year,'' quarterback
John Parker Wilson
said. ''It was good to see us respond.''
In the end, it was another down-to-the-wire win for the Tide (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) over the Rebels, who dominated
the second half and still had a shot at the upset approaching the final minute.
This one wasn't decided until
's fourth-and-5 pass to
, who was well covered by
, fell incomplete with 61 seconds to play.
The Tide has won its past two games by a total of seven points since rising to No. 2 with a series of easy victories. It was
also another in a series of close calls with Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3). Alabama had won each of the past three meetings by a field
goal, but holds a commanding 23-1 advantage in Tuscaloosa.
''I said it all week long: Ole Miss is really a good football team,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said. ''I believed it. I don't
know if our players believed it, but I think they do a fantastic job and they've got good players.''
Wilson threw for a season-high 219 yards and a pair of touchdowns and helped Alabama race to 24 straight points after facing
a 3-0 deficit and giving up points in the opening quarter for the first time all season.
Then Ole Miss answered with 17 straight points and closed to within 24-20 on
's 35-yard field goal with 6:09 left.
The Tide pushed the ball across midfield on its next possession aiming to put the game away but the drive stalled. P.J. Fitzgerald's
short punt gave Ole Miss the ball at its own 24 with 3:03 left.
Snead ran it on the first three plays, including once for a 5-yard gain when a pass that was batted right back into his arms
then had a sack before Snead threw an incompletion and hit McCluster for a 10-yard gain to set up the fourth-down play.
''I felt like I had to get rid of the ball, and unfortunately I wasn't able to get it where I wanted to go with it,'' Snead
The Rebels were going for their second road upset of a top-five team after beating Florida three weeks earlier.
''The reason we're able to play in this environment is you reach back to a game like Florida,'' Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt
said. ''A lot of teams can't stay on the field with Alabama, a lot of teams.''
Nutt's team cashed in on two big gambles on the opening drive of the second half to make it 24-10. Snead ran up the middle
for 17 yards on fourth-and-4. Then, Ole Miss faked a field goal, with blocking back
taking a shovel pass from holder
for a 9-yard touchdown.
''It's something that we've had for a while and could never find the right opportunity to run it,'' Cook said. ''Finally the
opportunity presents itself and next thing you know I'm in the end zone for the first time in my career, so it was pretty
A later fourth-down try in Alabama territory didn't pay off, when Don'ta Hightower stuffed Davis on fourth-and-inches late
in the third. Ole Miss got more chances, though.
After the teams exchanged fumbles in the fourth quarter, Snead hit
for a 17-yard touchdown with 9:27 left. Snead had fumbled at the end of a long run on the previous drive.
Alabama went three-and-out to give Ole Miss the ball back near midfield, but the Rebels had to settle for Shene's kick.
Wilson was 16-of-25 passing and was intercepted once.
ran for 73 yards and
was held to 52 yards on 13 carries and lost a fumble.
The Tide has the league's top running game and rush defense, but was outgained 158-107 on the ground.
gained 70 yards on 11 carries for Ole Miss, most of that coming on a 62-yarder that set up Shene's first field goal. It was
the longest play from scrimmage yielded by Alabama this season.
Snead was 16-for-31 for 192 yards.
Alabama got rolling quickly after the early deficit.
on a perfectly thrown fade route for a 26-yard touchdown to start it. The Tide then added Ingram's 2-yard touchdown midway
through the second quarter with 365-pound nose guard
as lead blocker on his first offensive snap.
''I don't think there's any rocket science to it,'' Saban said. ''The guy's a great big guy who's very powerful and took almost
the whole side of the line and moved it.''
The key cog in Alabama's run defense, Cody was carted off the field with a right knee injury in the third quarter. Saban said
surgery didn't appear to be necessary, but Cody would likely miss a couple of weeks.
each picked off two passes in a 3-minute span during that 24-0 spurt and returned them well into Ole Miss territory - one
thrown by Snead and another by McCluster on the ''Wild Rebel'' play where he lines up at quarterback. The Tide scored on
's 41-yard field goal and Wilson's 30-yard pass to
, splitting two defenders after a handoff and pitch-back from