EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If this were the New York Giants' bye week, quarterback Eli Manning would be in Oxford, Mississippi, on Saturday watching his alma mater take on No. 3 Alabama in one of the top college football games of the weekend. Instead, with the Giants playing at home the next day, Manning plans to park himself in front of his flat screen at 3:30 pm ET to watch No. 11 Mississippi try to pull off the big win.
"I think we have a good chance," Manning said Thursday after Giants practice. "We're playing real well on defense, and Alabama's maybe not be the same Alabama they've been on defense in recent years. We're playing at home. I think we have a good shot."
Ole Miss is allowing just 8.5 points and 248 yards per game, statistically the best defense in the SEC. Alabama's offense in the early going has been even more impressive under first-year coordinator Lane Kiffin and quarterback Blake Sims, but Manning isn't scared.
"They have a new quarterback, so you look and say maybe our defense can rattle him a little bit, and then our quarterback's got to play well," Manning said.
It's the kind of game that could potentially vault Ole Miss into the playoff discussion, though Manning knows from his own experience playing in that conference that it's far from a sure thing.
"That's the thing about the SEC," Manning said. "Even if you beat Alabama, then you've got to play Texas A&M and LSU and Auburn, Mississippi State's playing well... It never gets any easier."