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Alabama, urged to ‘take it personal,’ rallies to beat Ole Miss

OXFORD, Miss. — Still reeling after a heartbreaking loss at LSU and officially eliminated from reaching the SEC Championship, Alabama didn’t fold up shop on the road at Ole Miss on Saturday. The Crimson Tide instead came back from a double-digit deficit and hung on late to beat the Rebels 30-24.

A proud coach Nick Saban told reporters afterward, “It was a tough night in a lot of ways, but a great night for us because I think we took a step in the right direction as a football team.”

Alabama avoided snapping its 184-game streak without losing consecutive regular-season games.

The streak, which dated back to Saban’s first season at Alabama in 2007, is the longest such active streak in college football and the longest since Oklahoma went 256 games from 1999 to 2020.

Saban said he challenged his team before the game to “play to the standard” and “take it personal.”

“I think that’s the big thing that we wanted to get our players to do is, you’re responsible for the identity that you create and it’s personal in terms of how you play and how you compete in the game to try to dominate the guy you’re playing against,” he said. “And I saw a lot of that in the second half.”

Saban said he was proud of the hard running by Jase McClellan, who had to shoulder more of the load with Jahmyr Gibbs injured. McClellan accounted for 84 yards on 19 carries.

Saban also praised the offensive line for stepping up in the second half.

Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, completed 21 of 33 passes for 209 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

But it was the defense that arguably took the biggest step forward against Ole Miss.

After giving up 17 points in the first 20 minutes, it allowed only one touchdown the rest of the game.

Ole Miss had the ball on first-and-10 on the Alabama 14-yard line with a chance to score the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute left. But the defense forced an incompletion, tackled Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart for no gain and sacked Dart for a 6-yard loss. Then, on fourth-and-16, Brian Branch broke up a pass to seal the win.

Defensive lineman Byron Young was a standout in the front seven with 11 tackles — two for a loss — and two quarterback hurries.

“It became personal to all of us just because we saw what people been saying,” Young said. “We saw people write us off. And we feel like really, just for ourselves, we got to show ourselves who we are and we got to show ourselves that we are what we say we are. So I think that was the biggest thing for us.”

Alabama will host Austin Peay next Saturday before it closes out the regular season at home Nov. 26 against Auburn.

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