The no. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide will be in a unique position this week of having to bounce back from a loss when they make the trip to Starkville to play the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Of course, last week’s loss isn’t stopping the Crimson Tide from behind, favored by 17 points on the road. The game also has an over/under of 57.5 points.
It’s safe to say that last week’s loss to Texas A&M came as a surprise to most people. Outside of a close game against Florida, the Crimson Tide had steamrolled every team in its path this season, looking rather convincing in the process.
However, it’s unmistakable that Alabama’s two worst games have both come on the road and given the Tide little margin for error moving forward if they hope to retain their crown.
Ironically, Mississippi State’s last game also came against Texas A&M, although the Bulldogs knocked off the Aggies in that game to avoid a three-game losing streak. Mike Leach’s team lost a pair of heartbreakers to Memphis and LSU in back-to-back weeks, spoiling a 2-0 start to the season.
Even with a win two weeks ago over Texas A&M, the Bulldogs are just 3-2 and play a ranked team in four of their final seven games.
Best and Worst
There’s no doubt that Leach’s air-raid offense has been successfully installed at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are currently fifth nationally in passing yards per game but last in rushing yards with just 56.2 yards per game on the ground.
That places all of the pressure on quarterback Will Rogers, who has been efficient with a 75.7% completion percentage but doesn’t make a lot of throws down the field.
Meanwhile, the MSU defense is a little better than the numbers say. Even in their losses, the Bulldogs out-gained their opponents by more than 100 yards and did a good of winning at the line of scrimmage and controlling the running game.
Keep in mind that Memphis got a defensive touchdown and a special teams touchdown, although the Bulldogs were vulnerable to the deep ball against LSU.
On the surface, the Alabama offense looks more than capable of taking advantage of a vulnerable MSU pass defense. While the Tide has had some slumps this year, Bryce Young has also had the Alabama offense rolling for most of the year, throwing 20 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
Young can carry the offense on his back even if Brian Robinson and the steady Alabama rushing attack are held in check.
Of course, it’s the Alabama defense that has questions to answer after last week’s loss. The Tide did the hard work by stopping one of the best rushing teams in the SEC.
However, the Crimson Tide made multiple mistakes on the back end and was ripped apart by a freshman quarterback who had failed to impress during the early part of the season.
Never Doubt Nick
While there are questions to answer, there should be no concern that Nick Saban will find the right answers. Saban always seems to get his team’s attention after losses. Against a Mississippi State team that’s one-dimensional offensively and has some flaws on defense, bet on the Crimson Tide to win and cover on Saturday night.
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