Mississippi State vs. Alabama: Sorry Bulldogs, You Have No Chance
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Raise your hand if you thought the "game of the year" between undefeated teams in the SEC West would be between Alabama and Mississippi State.
OK, considering the Bulldogs had a very easy early-season schedule, a few of you probably have your hands raised.
But it isn't just the schedule that has allowed Mississippi State to elbow into the No. 11 spot in the BCS standings. It's a steady running game, wildly efficient quarterback play and a defense that leads the country in turnover margin.
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But are the Bulldogs all sizzle and no steak?
We'll know this weekend, and all signs point to the former.
The six Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) defenses that Mississippi State has faced this season have a combined rank of No. 78 nationally. Despite the weak competition, the Bulldogs have posted the nation's 50th-ranked offense with an average of 416.9 yards per game.
Things will be a bit tougher this weekend when head coach Dan Mullen's crew squares off against the top defense in the country in Tuscaloosa.
Mississippi State has been living and dying (well, living) by winning the turnover battle on a weekly basis. The Bulldogs lead the nation in turnover margin of 2.29 gained per game.
But if the Bulldogs are a model of offensive efficiency, Alabama is the supermodel.
Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron leads the nation in passing efficiency with a quarterback rating of 183.63. The junior signal-caller has completed 68.8 percent of his passes (106-of-154) for 1,476 yards, 16 touchdowns and zero picks. That's strong, even if it is against subpar competition.
Bulldog cornerbacks Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay are ball hawks in the Mississippi State secondary, but can they force McCarron into mistakes?
I suppose there's a first time for everything, but it takes a lot to get McCarron flustered.
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There's a reason the line (via VegasInsider.com) for this game opened with Alabama as a 24-point favorite and hasn't fluctuated by more than one point since Sunday. Oddsmakers don't think that Mississippi State's depth can hang with the 5-star talent that exists across the board in Tuscaloosa.
Who will win this weekend?
Not many teams can, so it shouldn't come as a shock.
It's going to take more than Mississippi State's best effort to topple the Tide, or it's going to take an uncharacteristically bad night by Nick Saban's crew.
That's only happened twice in three years inside the confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium, and those games came against LSU last season and Auburn in 2010—both of which won the SEC Championship.
Mississippi State isn't in that discussion yet, no matter what its record or ranking is.
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