Mississippi State has run the table through the 2012 season and climbed to a No. 11 ranking in the BCS. All will come crashing down this Saturday when the Bulldogs travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to face the No. 1 Crimson Tide, with this being the start of a losing streak for the boys in maroon.
Mississippi State has not faced a big challenge yet this season, but neither has Alabama. Both teams have played Tennessee and won the game with relative ease. The Vols have been the toughest opponent on the schedule for both teams so far this fall.
The Tide will have to play shutdown defense from the secondary with Tyler Russell coming into form from the pocket this year, but the overall talent of the Alabama defense will be enough to stop the Bulldogs offensive onslaught.
Tide Defense Deals Crushing Blow
The Alabama defense is ranked No. 1 in every major defensive category this fall. The Tide are tops in rushing, scoring and total defense.
They are No. 2 in pass defense. Mississippi State will field the No. 50 total offense and the No. 27 scoring offense in the country. That is a far cry from scary numbers to this Alabama defense.
As the season has progressed, the Bulldogs have been able to rely heavily on Tyler Russell and LaDarius Perkins to win ballgames. Perkins has been a setup man for the offense out of the backfield, and Russell has been the premier weapon, tossing 15 touchdowns and only one interception this fall.
That interception total will rise with the Tide this Saturday.
Perkins may have some room to earn yards, but if he is able to get more than 100 yards, it will be a surprise. He has four 100 yard games so far this season, and they all came in high-scoring contests for the Bulldogs. None of those big games came against solid defenses.
Alabama is on a tear right now looking for a second straight national title. The Crimson Tide defense will make work of Mississippi State, putting the Bulldogs into a tailspin to finish the year.
Tide Offense Wakes Up Bulldogs Defense
Mississippi State has played inspired defense this fall, with shutdown corners Johnthan Banks and Corey Broomfield leading the charge. Darius Slay has also made a name for himself this fall, snagging four picks so far this season. All three have played well, but they have yet to be tested.
A.J. McCarron is leading the country in quarterback efficiency and has yet to toss an interception this fall. He is guiding a potent passing attack for the Tide and will look to continue racking up yards this Saturday.
With passing yards come rushing lanes, and Alabama has done well in that category as well. Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon have held down the ground game and should churn up a lot of yards against the inferior Bulldogs defensive front.
As the game wears on and Mississippi State begins to wear down, the Alabama offense will pile on the yards against this Bulldogs unit. It is outgunned in the trenches by the Tide, and that will make the difference in the game.
Tough Games Follow Showdown in Tuscaloosa
After the Bulldogs take on Alabama and assumingly lose on the road, they return home to take on the Texas A&M Aggies and then travel to LSU.
The Alabama offense should be able to produce yards against the Bulldogs, but Mississippi State hasn’t seen anything like the explosive attack that the Aggies will bring to Starkville. Johnny Manziel has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country so far this season, and there is no sign that he is slowing down.
LSU has been second only to Alabama defensively and boasts the No. 5 pass defense in the country. LSU is also No. 9 against the run and No. 3 in total defense. Mississippi State will find it difficult to score on the Bayou Bengals in Baton Rouge.
This is set up to be a long three-week stretch for the Bulldogs with three Top 25 matchups landing in a row. Alabama will begin a losing streak for the Bulldogs that could see them drop two of the next three, eliminating them from the SEC and BCS title discussion.