Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Complete Game Preview
After coming away with a 38-17 win over LSU, No. 1 Alabama doesn't exactly get a cake walk this week when it travels to Starkville to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Mississippi State comes in with a record of 4-5 (1-4 SEC) with all five of its losses coming to current BCS Top-25 teams (Oklahoma State, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M).
The Crimson Tide, of course, are gunning for a third straight title and fourth in five years. Mississippi State and Chattanooga are all that stands between the Tide and a possible Top 10, SEC West-deciding Iron Bowl in Auburn.
Here's everything you need to know:
Date: Saturday, Nov. 16
Time: 6:45 p.m. CT
Place: Scott Field in Starkville, Miss.
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Mississippi State Radio Network
Spread: Alabama by 24.5 to 27 points, according to Vegas Insider
Alabama Keys to Victory
Stay the Course
Alabama is riding high after its big win at home against LSU. Last year, the Crimson Tide lost to Texas A&M after an emotional win over the Tigers. The Bulldogs aren't exactly the Aggies, talent-wise, but Alabama still can't come out flat on the road in the SEC.
Stop the Run
It's a big key every week, but especially so against a Mississippi State team that is fourth in the SEC in rushing. The Bulldogs' running game is more about misdirection than power, so it will be key for the Crimson Tide to stay disciplined.
Mississippi State Keys to Victory
If Alabama's going to have a hangover from LSU, it won't last long. The Bulldogs will need to capitalize early and often on whatever, if any, letdown the Crimson Tide bring in.
Capitalize on Mistakes
Alabama won't make many, but as LSU showed, you have to capitalize when it does. The Tigers' defense forced a couple of stops but turned the ball over or made other careless plays and couldn't take advantage.
Alabama Players to Watch
Hubbard had arguably his best game of the season Saturday, registering two tackles, including a sack, and putting consistent pressure on LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. It could be a sign of good things to come for one of Alabama's most athletic linebackers.
Howard flashed some of his freakish athleticism on Saturday taking a short slant to the house against the LSU defense. If he becomes a regular part of Alabama's passing game, that offense will be nearly impossible to stop.
Mississippi State Players to Watch
The Bulldogs' quarterback joins Johnny Manziel as the only two SEC quarterbacks that lead their teams in both rushing and passing, according to Mississippi State's game notes. Prescott has taken hold of the starting quarterback job and has proven to be a threat this season.
Lewis, a junior wide receiver, has more passing touchdowns than any other non-quarterback in the country. A trick play could be just what Mississippi State needs to get a quick score on the Crimson Tide.
What They're Saying
AJ McCarron isn't worried about the Heisman, according to Marq Burnett of The Anniston Star:
“It’s an honor to be in the talks, but that’s the last thing on my mind,” McCarron said recently during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show. “I’m a happy guy going home to my family and looking at the national championship rings that we achieved as a team. No individual award can replace those. So, it’s the last thing on my mind and it really doesn’t bother me at all and I really don’t care.”
"You always want to see your team play well," he said. "I didn't think we played real well in the first half. I was really, really pleased with the way the team responded in the second half. I was really pleased with the way AJ's leadership helped us do that.
"I guess it was just kind of a, you know, an emotional moment for me. It was a big win for us."
“Last week we had to stretch out a lot, drink a lot of water and hydrate because you’re going to run a lot,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said. “This week, you better get in that ice bath, get your body healthy because they’re going to pound away at you.”
Alabama 37, Mississippi State 7
The Crimson Tide come out a little flat in their penultimate SEC game, but still handle the Bulldogs with ease. Alabama gets essentially a bye week the next week before the biggest Iron Bowl since Cam Newton came to Tuscaloosa.