By Tony Carter
The Alabama Crimson Tide is coming off a disappointing 9–6 overtime loss to the number 1 ranked LSU Tigers in which the Tide actually moved the ball with some degree of success while outgaining the Tigers in total yards, time of possession and first downs. However, losing the field goal contest converting only 2 of 6 became the eventual storyline. The Alabama football team 8-1 (5-1) now travels to Starkville to face the 5-4 (1-4) Mississippi State Bulldogs. Alabama leads, 74-18-3. (Last meeting, 2010, Alabama won 30-10).
Mississippi State in all of its 4 SEC losses has been competitive late in the game only to give up eventual scores in losing efforts. Mississippi State will likely utilize both Russell and Relf after seeing the success LSU had on the perimeter running the option vs the Alabama defense last week.
It is unlikely that MSU will be able to move the ball on Alabama with any degree of success vs Alabama’s nickel package pass defense that gave up under 100 yards to LSU. This will force MSU to try to run the ball which will also fall well short of being functional.
Watch for Alabama to reinforce importance of running game and lean toward more conservative play calling inside opponent’s thirty-yard line. Alabama’s special teams needs to solidify in multiple areas going into the last quarter of the season if it wants any chance of getting to the BCSCG or any other postseason goals like a BCS bowl.
MSU might keep this game within one score going into halftime, but Alabama should pull away with a pounding run game as time progresses.
Prediction: Alabama 34 MSU 13