Alabama vs. Mississippi State: Top Storylines to Watch in SEC Clash

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIINovember 16, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 09:  AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates a touchdown rush by T.J. Yeldon #4 in the third quarter against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Saturday, Nov. 16, the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide will travel to play the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a meeting of SEC football foes. Alabama will look to preserve its perfect season under Nick Saban, while Mississippi State will be searching for the upset of the year as it pursues a .500 record under Dan Mullen.

The question is, what should you be watching for when the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide clash this weekend?

Viewing Information
DateTime (EST)TVLive StreamBetting Line (via BOVADA)
Saturday, Nov. 167:45 p.m.ESPNWatch ESPNAlabama (-24)
No. 1 Alabama at Mississippi State


Key Injuries

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 09:  Dak Prescott #15 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs looks to pass against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on November 9, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Entering Week 12 of the 2013-14 college football season, it's hardly surprising to note that there are injuries. As unfortunate as it may be, teams have played something in the ball park of 10 games, and that puts every player at risk of a nagging or sidelining ailment.

This game is no exception.

The most notable name on the injury list is Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. Coach Mullen labeled Prescott as questionable for the game against Alabama, per, due to an elbow injury.

Mississippi State has been splitting quarterback duties between Prescott and original starter Tyler Russell, but that doesn't make Prescott's health any less concerning.

As for Alabama, an already banged up Crimson Tide secondary could be without a key player. Andrew Gribble of reports that cornerback Bradley Sylve is still nursing a high ankle sprain, and that could keep him out of this weekend's game against Mississippi State.

Cyrus Jones has played well in his place, but depth in the secondary will be a key in this game and beyond for Alabama.


Upset Alert

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 02:  Jameon Lewis #4 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs tries to get away from Larenz Bryant #32 of the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 2, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This one's a long shot.

At 4-5, Mississippi State is far from a team that has earned the label of an upset threat. With a closer inspection of those losses, however, it becomes clear that the Bulldogs have been within striking distance during games against high-profile opponents.

That's either broken Mississippi State's spirits, or it's prepared them to do the unthinkable against Alabama.

Mississippi State lost 51-41 on the road to No. 11 Texas A&M on Nov. 9, and they trailed by 10 points with less than 14 minutes remaining before falling apart down the stretch. The Bulldogs were down 17-10 at the half against No. 10 South Carolina before losing 34-16 away from home.

Furthermore, the Bulldogs lost 24-20 at the No. 7 Auburn Tigers and 21-3 to No. 12 Oklahoma State. A 59-26 loss to No. 21 LSU is discouraging, but the score was 31-26 entering the fourth quarter.

Mississippi State has been in the thick of things against some of the best teams in the country, and that offers some form of hope entering a clash with Alabama.

It'd be the biggest shock of the year to see Alabama fall to Mississippi State, and that must be stated. With that being said, all five of Mississippi State's losses have come against Top 25 teams, and that makes Dan Mullen's squad a dangerous one.

Alabama deserves to be the heavy favorite, but this one may not be as easy as it seems.


AJ McCarron: Heisman Hopeful?

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 09:  CBS Sports reporter Tracy Wolfson interviews head coach Nick Saban and AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide after their 38-17 win over the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies are having another magnificent season. Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles are ranked No. 2 in the country.

Why does this matter? Manziel and Winston are the top two Heisman Trophy candidates. They're also two players who have been been out-classed by AJ McCarron and the Alabama Crimson Tide, whether it be on the field or in the rankings.

This isn't to say that McCarron deserves to win the Heisman Trophy, but where's his hype?

Through the air, McCarron currently has 2,041 yards, 19 touchdowns and three interceptions on a completion percentage of 69.4. That creates career marks of 68 touchdowns and 11 interceptions during his time at Alabama.

More impressively, McCarron has already won two national championships and is in a position to win an uncanny third.

In his biggest game of the year, McCarron earned his Heisman moment by out-gunning Manziel in College Station. Manziel put up monster numbers, but it was McCarron who went 20-of-29 for 334 yards, four touchdowns and no interception en route to a 49-42 win.

Mississippi State is 4-5, but if McCarron is going to enter the Heisman conversation, he can't afford to do anything but take over this contest.