Lane Kiffin thought of Katy Perry.
Before Kiffin accepted the Ole Miss job in December 2019, he reflected on his three clashes against the Rebels as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.
One game in particular stood out: Ole Miss’s 23-17 victory over Alabama No.1 on October 4, 2014.
Or, as Kiffin put it in an interview in June, “Katy Perry day”.
ESPN “College GameDay” traveled to Oxford, Mississippi, for the match featuring a pair of Top 15 teams.
Perry, the pop star who had recorded multiple No.1 hits, was the guest selection expert on the TV set, and she brought the boisterous crowd to a crescendo when she picked the Rebels to upset Alabama. .
Ole Miss was 20-28 in all four seasons before Kiffin arrived at Oxford, but that’s not how he remembered the schedule. He remembered Katy Perry’s day. And the Rebels have beaten Alabama twice in Kiffin’s three seasons on Nick Saban’s side.
“I know a lot of the intrigue for the job came from being in Alabama when Ole Miss was playing well, and only lost two regular season games in three years at Alabama, and both were at. Ole Miss – one here and one there, ”Kiffin told me in June.
“Seeing the stadium that day (in 2014 at Oxford) was Katy Perry’s day and everything.
“For me it wasn’t like a program where you have to do a miracle that has never been done before, or the last time we won was 20 years ago. So, it was fresh in my memory.
Halfway through Kiffin’s second season, the No.12 Miss Ole (3-0, 0-0 SEC) is buzzing at a level not seen since the 2014-15 seasons.
Kiffin will look to become the first former Saban assistant to beat the greatest college football coach of all time when the Rebels face the No.1 Alabama (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday (2:30 p.m. CT, CBS ) in Tuscaloosa. , Alabama.
The Kiffin Rebels can do it too, for the same reason those 2014-15 teams beat Alabama: Their quarterback is good enough to give the adjustments to Crimson Tide.
Bo Wallace completed 18 of 31 passes for 251 yards with three touchdowns when the Rebels upset the Tide in 2014.
Chad Kelly had 18 of 33 passes for 341 yards with three touchdowns in the 43-37 Ole Miss triumph in 2015.
Wallace and Kelly have ranked among the top quarterbacks in the SEC during those respective seasons.
Ole Miss’s quarterback this season, Matt Corral, plays as well as any quarterback in the country. He’s better than Wallace or Kelly. He’s as good as a double-threat quarterback Alabama has faced for as long as Saban can remember.
“The guy is very elusive. It can extend the games. A very precise passer, ”Saban said Monday. “He executes their attack extremely well.
“He’s about as talented as anyone we’ve seen, running and overtaking, in a long time.”
Of course, the Alabama defense is a different type of beast than the Louisville, Austin Peay, or Tulane that Corral has faced so far.
And it’s not like Corral is going to be the building’s only good quarterback.
Bryce Young of Corral vs. Alabama is as convincing as Kiffin vs. Saban. Heisman Trophy voters might want to tune in.
Like Wallace and Kelly before him, Corral is mobile. The list of double-threat quarterbacks to beat Alabama during the Saban Era includes Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel and Deshaun Watson.
Of course, Corral threw for 365 yards and two touchdowns last season against Alabama, and Ole Miss lost 63-48. The Rebels’ defense, which looks like an improved unit this season, cannot crumble on Saturday.
“Their overall team has improved in all categories – in defense, on special teams, they are playing really extremely well,” said Saban. “They’re one of the best attacking teams in the country, without a doubt.”
Kiffin returned the praise to Alabama.
“We’re a huge underdog for a reason,” he said on Monday.
This match has all it takes to be an instant classic.
Historically great trainer against the party animal.
SEC football inside a college football cathedral.
All he needs is a pop star to show up on Saturday morning.
Follow Blake Toppmeyer on Twitter @btoppmeyer.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Lane Kiffin: Katy Perry’s ESPN appearance helped her choose Ole Miss’s job