Sure Mississippi State Is 5-0, but Can the Bulldogs Beat Alabama?

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 9, 2012

The three undefeated SEC teams in the top four of the AP Poll are stealing all of the headlines, but there's another team in the conference with an unblemished record that is flying under the radar.

Mississippi State.

Dan Mullen's Bulldogs currently sit at 5-0 and ranked No. 19, and yet nobody is talking about the Bulldogs as a legit threat in the SEC West. But if they can get past Derek Dooley's Tennessee Volunteers this weekend, the Bulldogs will likely top Middle Tennessee State next week and head to Tuscaloosa at 7-0.

Can they be the team that derails the Alabama freight train?

If they continue to play the way they have during the first month-plus of the season, absolutely.

Mullen is known as an offensive guru, but his team has been making a living on defense—particularly by forcing turnovers.

They've given up 325.6 yards per game—good enough for fifth in the SEC, but have gained 2.2 turnovers per game, the third-best mark in the country.

When you're getting more than two extra possessions per game, that helps any offense.

It will be strength vs. strength when the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide square off, because Alabama's success this season has been directly related to forcing turnovers. The Tide have gained 2.4 turnovers per game, second only to Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) newcomer UTSA in the country.

Well that, and a stifling defense.

Mississippi State's early-season schedule has been a cakewalk, with the only signature win being over the Auburn Tigers. But beating the 2012 version of the Auburn Tigers isn't anything to write home about.

We will know more about Mississippi State this weekend.

Tennessee will be a tough challenge, particularly because the Vols can sling it all over the field with wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson. Bulldog cornerbacks Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay will have their hands full, but if there's any secondary in the country that can shut down the Vols' aerial attack, it's Mississippi State's.

Tennessee may not have the name-value that it used to have, but it would be the biggest win of the season for Dan Mullen's crew.

If his Bulldogs continue to play the way they've played all season, then don't discount the possibility of them pulling the upset in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 27.

Talent-wise, it's no contest. Alabama is vastly superior almost across the board. But Mississippi State is good enough to put itself in the position to win the game if it catches a few breaks.

So far this season, it has been catching those breaks.

If that continues, look out.