Preview: Alabama vs Mississippi State

Alabama Football Update: Mississippi State has gaudy offensive numbers, but 4-5 record

By Dave Friedman

It has been a record setting season for Mississippi State’s offense, but gaudy numbers have not translated to wins. The Bulldogs (4-5, 1-4) host top ranked Alabama on Saturday having lost two straight road games. The Crimson Tide (9-0, 6-0) are ranked number one after dusting LSU 38-17 last weekend. Alabama has allowed 43 total points since a shootout win over Texas A&M on September 14.

In College Station, Texas on Saturday the Bulldogs put up 41 points and 556 yards of offense but fell short as Texas A&M led 51-27 early in the fourth quarter and held on for a 51-41 victory. MSU is averaging 459.2 yards of total offense, more than 35 yards ahead of the school’s all time record, but that still ranks just seventh in the SEC, and their 29.8 points a game is 10th best in the league. Meanwhile, in four league loses, Dan Mullen’s team has allowed 42 points a contest.

Alabama has beaten Mississippi State five straight times and in 10 of their last 12 match-ups. Last year the Tide beat the Dogs 38-7. If the Bulldogs think outscoring Alabama is a method for success, consider that since 2009 the Crimson Tide have allowed 80 touchdowns. The next best mark in the NCAA is LSU. The Tigers have given up 120 TD’s. However, Alabama is equally sound on offense where they rank sixth in the country scoring a touchdown on 49-percent of their drives. Mullen knows how dangerous the Crimson Tide are.

“Any time you get the opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country, that’s huge,” said Mullen. “It’s unique. You don’t always get this (opportunity). They’re a team that leads the nation in just about everything. I don’t know if they have any weak spots. We’re going to have out hands full. We’re going to enjoy that opportunity and go out there and play with great effort for 60 minutes and see what we can do.”

With all five of the Bulldogs loses coming against nationally ranked competition, Alabama coach Nick Saban has the utmost respect for Mississippi State.

“This is a real challenge for our team,” said Saban. “Mississippi State, I think, has probably the best 4-5 team in the country. They’ve lost five games to top 20 teams and have played extremely well all year long.”

Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott is questionable for the game with an elbow injury. He got banged up during the fourth quarter in Saturday’s loss against Texas A&M and did not return. Prescott leads SEC QB’s with 12 touchdowns scored. Tyler Russell will get the nod if Prescott is unable to go. Russell started against Alabama each of the last two years and manufactured just one scoring drive.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin holds Prescott in high regard.

“He’s just getting better — a big, strong, physical guy, made the throws when he had to,” said Sumlin.” He’s a very, very talented player with his best days ahead of him and that’s scary.”

While the Tide are 25 point favorites, they remember getting shocked by Texas A&M last season the week after beating LSU. Saban is fully focused on the Bulldogs.

“You cannot take things for granted,” Saban said. “There can’t be any kind of relief syndrome. This is certainly not the time to think that we just got over this big game so we ought to be entitled to have a little rest time this week. With every game you win, the next challenge becomes more important and a bigger game. This certainly will be no different playing on the road against a very good team this week.”