The Matchup: #11 Mississippi State (7-0, 3-0) at #1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0)
When: Saturday, October 27th
Where: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Game Time: 8:30 PM ET
Recent History: Alabama has won four straight over Mississippi State. The losing school has not topped 17 points in the last 14 games between the two programs.
Miss State Will Win If: The Bulldogs force AJ McCarron to turn the football over. How many INTs has McCarron thrown in his stellar junior campaign? None. The MSU secondary is a ball-hawking secondary led by Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay, who are both currently tied for the SEC lead in interceptions with four. State has to do a good job against the run and force McCarron to make throws to his receivers. This is the one area MSU has the advantage. I will take State’s DBs against Bama’s WRs all day, but if McCarron does make any mistakes, the ball has to be picked off. The Bulldogs lead the SEC and the nation in turnover margin at +16. Mississippi State will have to force a couple to give the offense a shorter field to work with. Field position will be crucial.
Alabama Will Win If: The Tide doesn’t beat themselves. Cliché? You bet. Alabama will only lose to Alabama because Nick Saban has his team playing to their own level. The Tide are thriving in every facet of the game, from a physically dominant defense to the top passing efficiency offense in the country. Bama is +14 in TO margin. The offense is improving week to week with the emergence of WR Amari Cooper and the ever-improving running game. But this isn’t your daddy’s Mississippi State team, and Alabama knows that. Could Bama look past MSU with their heavyweight date with LSU looming?
Storyline(s): The entire country respects Alabama, but nobody respects MSU. Did you see the Vegas line? The Tide are favored by 24 points. No one outside of Starkville clearly believes the Bulldogs can win. We all want to see whether the Bulldogs are pretenders or contenders. State fans want respect. You have every opportunity to earn everyone’s respect on Saturday.
Matchup To Watch: Alabama’s passing offense against Mississippi State’s corners will be a sexy watch. AJ McCarron will be throwing to Amari Cooper, Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood, while Banks, Slay and others will be covering them. MSU’s DB duo got the better of Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson, and it will be easier against the Tide’s trio. If MSU can control Bama’s rushing attack, look for the secondary to try and be a game changer.