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Mississippi State vs. Alabama: Complete Game Preview

Sanjay KirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystOctober 23, 2012

Mississippi State vs. Alabama: Complete Game Preview

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    The top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide have seemingly been on auto-pilot since their season-opening win over then-No. 8 Michigan.

    That could be due in part because they have yet to face a ranked opponent since then. 

    That will change this weekend when the unbeaten and 11th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs invade Bryant-Denny Stadium in a showdown between old foes in the SEC West.

    The winner will take a big step forward and jump into the driver’s seat for a trip to the SEC Championship Game in December. 

    Can Nick Saban and the Tide maintain their dominance in this series and earn their fifth consecutive win over Dan Mullen’s club?

    Find out everything you need to know about the meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs in this complete game preview.  

Game-Day Info

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    Who: Mississippi State at Alabama

    When: Saturday, 8:30 (EDT)

    Where: Tuscaloosa, AL.

    Stadium: Bryant-Denny Stadium, (101,821)

    TV: ESPN

    Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Sirius Channel 85, XM Channel 85

    Internet Stream: ESPN3, WatchESPN

Depth Chart for Alabama

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    Offense

    LT – 71 – Cyrus Kouandijo, SO (6’6”, 311)

    63 – Kellen Williams, JR (6’3”, 303)

     

    LG – 65 – Chance Warmack, SR (6’3”, 320)

    Chad Lindsay, SO (6’2”, 290)

     

    C – 75 – Barrett Jones, SR (6’5”, 302)

    70 – Ryan Kelly, FR (6’5”, 288)

     

    RG – 61 – Anthony Steen, JR (6’3”, 303)

    77 – Arie Kouandijo, SO (6’5, 310)

     

    RT – 76 – D.J. Fluker, JR (6’6”, 335)

    79 – Austin Shepherd, SO (6’5”, 312)

     

    TE – 89 – Michael Williams, SR (6’6”, 269)

    84 – Brian Vogler, SO (6’7”, 258)

     

    H – 31 – Kelly Johnson, SR (6’3”, 230)

    82 – Harrison Jones, SO (6’4”, 244)

    21 – Brent Calloway, FR (6’1”, 217)

     

    QB – 10 – AJ McCarron, JR (6’4”, 205)

    12 – Phillip Ely, FR (6’1”, 198) OR

    6 – Blake Sims, SO (6’0”, 182)

     

    RB – 42 – Eddie Lacy, JR (6’0”, 220)

    4 – T.J. Yeldon, FR (6’2”, 216)

    17 – Kenyan Drake, FR (6’1”, 204)

     

    WR (X) – 9 – Amari Cooper, FR (6’1”, 198)

    80 – Marvin Shinn, FR (6’3”, 198)

     

    WR (Z) – 83 – Kevin Norwood, JR (6’2”, 195)

    7 – Kenny Bell, JR (6’1”, 180)

     

    WR (H) – 22 – Christion Jones, SO (5’11, 185)

    8 – Cyrus Jones, FR (5’10”, 192)

     

     

    Defense

    DE – 49 – Ed Stinson, JR (6’4”, 282)

    8 – Jeoffrey Pagan, SO (6’4”, 285)

     

    NG – 54 – Jesse Williams, SR (6’4”, 320)

    62 – Brandon Ivory, SO (6’4”, 315)

     

    DE – 92 – Damion Square, SR (6’3”, 286)

    90 – Quinton Dial, SR (6’6”, 304)

     

    Sam OLB – 42 – Adrian Hubbard, SO (6’6”, 248)

    19 – Jonathan Atchison, JR (6’3”, 236)

     

    Mike ILB – 33 – Trey Depriest, SO (6’2”, 245), or 35 – Nico Johnson, SR (6’3”, 245)

    18 – Reggie Ragland, FR (6’2”, 247)

     

    Will ILB – 35 – Nico Johnson, SR (6’3”, 245). or 32 – C.J. Mosley, JR (6’2”, 232)

    11 – Tana Patrick, JR (6’3”, 236)

     

    Jack OLB – 47 – Xzavier Dickson, SO (6’3”, 262)

    30 – Denzel Devall, FR (6’2”, 243)

     

    CB – 28 – Dee Milliner, JR (6’1”, 199)

    10 – John Fulton, JR (6’0”, 187)

     

    CB – 13 – Deion Belue, JR (5’11”, 179)

    24 – Geno Smith, FR (6’0”, 182)

     

    SS – 37 – Robert Lester, SR (6’2”, 210)

    3 – Vinnie Sunseri, SO (6’0”, 215)

     

    FS –6 – HaHa Clinton-Dix, SO (6’1”, 209) OR 27 – Nick Perry, JR (6’1”, 208)

    26 – Landon Collins, FR (6’0”, 202)

     

     

    Special Teams

    PK – 5 – Jeremy Shelley, SR (5’10”, 165), or 43 – Cade Foster, JR (6’1, 218)

     

    KO – 43 – Cade Foster, JR (6’1”, 218)

     

    HOLD – 10 – AJ McCarron, JR (6’4”, 210)

    3 – Vinnie Sunseri, SO (6’0”, 215)

     

    P – 29 – Cody Mandell, JR (6’4”, 202)

    5 – Jeremy Shelley, SR (5’10”, 165)

     

    SN – 51 – Carson Tinker, SR (6’1”, 220)

    31 – Kelly Johnson, SR (6’3”, 230)

     

    PR – 22 – Christion Jones, SO (5’11”, 185)

    8 – Cyrus Jones, FR (5’10”, 192)

     

    KR – 22 – Christion Jones, SO (5’11”, 185)

    28 – Dee Milliner, JR (6’1”, 199)

    8 – Cyrus Jones, FR (5’10”, 192)

    83 – Kevin Norwood, JR (6’2”, 195)

Depth Chart for Mississippi State

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    Offense

    WR  – 19 – Arceto Clark, SR (5’10”, 180)

    16 – Joe Morrow, FR (6’4”, 205)

     

    WR – 1 – Chad Bumphis, SR (5’11”, 200)

    4 – Jameon Lewis, SO (5’9”, 185)

     

    WR – 8 – Chris Smith, SR (6’2”, 205)

    3 – Brandon Heavens, SR (5’10”, 175)

     

    LT – 75 – Blaine Clausell, SO (6’7”, 305)

    59 – Archie Muniz, SO (6’5”, 290)

     

    LG – 61 – Gabe Jackson, JR (6’4”, 320)

    66 – Ben Beckwith, SO (6’3”, 300)

     

    C – 63 – Dillon Day, SO (6’4”, 285)

    55 – Dylan Holley, JR (6’3”, 295)

     

    RG – 67 – Tobias Smith, SR (6’3”, 305)

    70 – Justin Malone, FR (6’7”, 315)

     

    RT – 77 – Charles Siddoway, JR (6’7”, 300)

    78 – Damien Robinson, SO (6’7”, 315)

     

    TE – 32 – Marcus Green, SR (6’1”, 240)

    18 – Brandon Hill, SO (6’2”, 235)

     

    FB – 23 – Sylvester Hemphill, SR (5’11”, 235)

    35 – Adrian Marcus, JR (5’10”, 225)

     

    RB – 27 – LaDarius Perkins, JR (5’10”, 190)

    7 – Nick Griffin, SO (6’0”, 225)

     

    QB – 17 – Tyler Russell, JR (6’4”, 220)

    15 – Dak Prescott, FR (6’2”, 230)

     

     

    Defense

    DE – 92 – Kaleb Eulls, SO (6’4”, 280)

    91 – Preston Smith, SO (6’6”, 245)

     

    DT – 97 – Josh Boyd, SR (6’3”, 300)

    93 – P.J. Jones, SO (6’3”, 280)

     

    DT – 98 – Curtis Vigres, SO (6’3”, 305)

    74 – Dewayne Cherrington, SR (6’3”, 325)

     

    DE – 90 – Denico Autry, JR (6’5”, 255)

    96 – Shane McCardell, SR (6’5”, 260)

     

    LB – 51 – Deontae Skinner, JR (6’2”, 245)

    12 – Chris Hughes, JR (6’1”, 225)

     

    LB– 50 – Benardrick McKinney, FR (6’5”, 235)

    52 – Ferlando Bohanna, SO (6’0”, 225)

     

    LB – 10 – Cameron Lawrence, SR (6’3”, 230)

    22 – Matthew Wells, SO (6’2”, 215)

     

    CB – 13 – Johnthan Banks, SR (6’2”, 185)

    24 – Jamerson Love, SR (5’10”, 175)

     

    SS – 25 – Corey Broomfield, SR (5’10”, 180)

    30 – Jay Hughes, SO (5’11”, 190)

    20 – Louis Watson, SR (5’11”, 185)

     

    FS – 5 – Nickoe Whitley, JR (6’1”, 205)

    38 – Dee Arrington, SO (6’1”, 215)

     

    CB – 9 – Darius Slay, SR (6’1”, 190)

    37 – Taveze Calhoun, FR (6’1”, 180)

     

     

    Special Teams

    PK – 40 – Devon Bell, FR (6’2”, 185)

    40 – Brian Egan, JR (5’11”, 210)

     

    P – 39 – Baker Swedenburg, JR (6’0”, 185)

     

    SN – 72 – Winston Chapman, FR (6’2”, 225)

     

    Holder – 83 – Chris Cameron, SR (5’10”, 180)

     

    KR – 27 – LaDarius Perkins, JR (5’10”, 190)

    4 – Jameon Lewis, SO (5’9”, 185)

     

    PR – 13 – Johnthan Banks, SR (6’2”, 185)

    1 – Chad Bumphis, SR (5’11”, 200) 

What Happened to the Crimson Tide Last Week

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    Alabama went on the road to face rival Tennessee in its traditional matchup on the third Saturday in October. 

    The Crimson Tide overpowered a scrappy Vols squad and coasted to a 44-13 victory—which marked Alabama’s third consecutive win in Knoxville and sixth straight victory overall in the series. 

    The Tide racked up 539 yards of total offense behind the stellar play of quarterback A.J. McCarron and receiver Amari Cooper, while the defense held the high-powered Vols offense to its lowest point total of the season. 

    Alabama remains No. 1 in the polls for a school-record eighth consecutive week (via ESPN).  

What Happened to the Bulldogs Last Week

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    Mississippi State struggled for a half against Middle Tennessee State before exploding in the final 30 minutes en route to a 45-3 win over the Blue Raiders. 

    Quarterback Tyler Russell threw three touchdown passes while running back LaDarius Perkins ran for 125 yards and another score. 

    The Bulldogs are off to their best start since 1999, but their strength of schedule has been noticeably soft—with its opponents sporting a combined record of 19-32.  

What It Means to Both Teams

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    The stakes are high for both clubs with the winner of this contest securing a hold on top of the SEC West with the loser’s chances to make it to Atlanta taking a severe hit. 

    Alabama also has to avoid looking ahead to a date at No. 6 LSU next weekend, but that game would lose a considerable amount of its luster should the Tide get upset by the Bulldogs on Saturday. 

    A win for Mississippi State would give Dan Mullen a landmark win for his program and catapult the Bulldogs into uncharted territory with regards to the races in the SEC and the national title.  

Key Player for Alabama

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    After the breakout performance from Cooper last weekend, the standout freshman receiver will face a stout Bulldogs secondary—led by star corner Johnthan Banks and his 16 career interceptions.   

    In addition to Cooper, the Tide will need another pass-catcher to emerge from a group that includes Kevin Norwood, Christion Jones and Kenny Bell. 

    While it could be any one of those receivers, Bell has started to come on after a slow start—as evidenced by him hauling in two passes for 68 yards and a touchdown against the Vols. 

    With Cooper likely demanding increased attention from MSU’s defense, Bell could be the man McCarron looks for to help beat an aggressive Bulldogs secondary.  

Key Player for Mississippi State

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    The Bulldogs will counter Alabama’s top-rated rush defense with the SEC’s leading rusher in Perkins. 

    For the Bulldogs to have a chance, Perkins must be able to be effective in order to keep the offense balanced. 

    The junior has ran for 724 yards and eight touchdowns, but the toughest defense he has faced to date has come against Troy—who checks in at 71st nationally in rushing defense. 

    With Alabama priding itself on stopping the run, slowing down Perkins will likely be a focal point for Saban’s defense.  

Alabama Will Win If …

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    The Tide will win if they can continue to play with the same formula they have used to race to 7-0.  

    The offense will be fine if it can remain balanced and efficient without turning the ball over. 

    Defensively, harassing Russell—whose numbers to date resemble those of McCarron—is paramount to shutting down an offense that averages nearly 37 points per game. 

    With this game representing a huge leap in the level of competition Mississippi State has faced, the Tide has a decided competitive advantage in terms of big-game experience and playing at home.  

Mississippi State Will Win If …

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    The Bulldogs—who have forced 21 turnovers on the year—will win if they can find a way to coerce Alabama into making mistakes that they simply have not made this season. 

    Establishing Perkins on the ground would be a tremendous boost and help the offense remain balanced against a defense that feasts on its opponents when it’s able to shut down the running game. 

    The defensive line has to win the war in the trenches if it has any shot to slow down an offense that appears to be peaking. 

    Alabama is at home and playing with a lot of confidence, so it will take a tremendous effort in all three phases for the Bulldogs to pull off a shocking upset. 

Prediction

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    Mullen has quietly mounted some momentum and brings his strongest team since arriving in Starkville into this game. 

    The Bulldogs are 7-0, but the fact that they are 24-point underdogs in this matchup speaks volumes about their chances on the road against the nation’s top team (h/t, Brandon Marcello, ClarionLedger.com). 

    I expect Mississippi State to play with a ton of energy and effort, which should help them hang with the Tide until halftime. 

    That said, Alabama is the deeper and more talented ballclub.

    Expect the Tide to pull away in the second half for and score another impressive victory.   

    Prediction:  Alabama 37, Mississippi State 10 

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