On Saturday, Alabama and Mississippi State clash in a battle of unbeaten SEC West foes. While MSU is still ranked outside the Top 10, Alabama cannot take its opponents lightly and look ahead to its showdown with LSU next weekend.
MSU head coach Dan Mullen has done a fantastic job with the program since he arrived in 2009. He has brought in great recruiting classes and implemented a system that has given the Bulldogs a lot of success in a short time.
The Bulldogs use a unique pistol-formation that allows them to gain big chunks of yards on the ground while throwing the ball very efficiently.
Their starting QB, Tyler Russell, is an underrated athlete who is a smart runner and can accurately place the ball on short-yardage routes to his receivers.
WRs Chris Smith, Arceto Clark and Chad Bumphis, along with TE Marcus Green, give the Bulldogs three solid options catching the ball, but the Crimson Tide will really have to focus on stopping the SEC's leading rusher, LaDarius Perkins.
Perkins is a quick back with great balance who fights for every yard and has found a ton of success in the Bulldogs' complex running attack.
MSU also has another added element to its attack in backup QB Dak Prescott. Prescott is a strong, quick athlete who is used similarly to a player like Tim Tebow or Colin Kaepernick.
With a multitude of rushers and formations, the Bulldogs are able to run different schemes and thrive on play-action and short passes. They can dissect a team by neutralizing the defensive line and confusing the linebackers.
If the Bulldogs are able to establish the running game early, the Crimson Tide may find themselves scrambling to contain Perkins while trying to stop the play-action.
Alabama can't take MSU's defense lightly either. Although they don't have a great pass rush, they feature one of the best CB duos in the nation. Johnthan Banks is a potential first-round pick, and Darius Slay has proven to be a consistent cover corner.
I expect MSU co-defensive coordinators Geoff Collins and Chris Wilson to stack the box and try to stop Alabama's running game while relying on Banks and Slay to match up on the outside.
The Bulldogs come into this game having won nine straight games going back to last season. They have a ton of confidence and believe that they can come into Tuscaloosa and shock the nation.
Nick Saban will have to get his boys prepared and hope that they aren't looking past this game to LSU. If they don't take the Bulldogs seriously, their dreams of a national championship may be crushed.