The Alabama Crimson Tide will be aiming to take out their frustrations on the Mississippi State Bulldogs after suffering their first loss of the season. It’ll be no easy task against a Bulldogs team coming off a victory over the same Texas A&M squad that pulled off the stunner at College Station last Saturday. However, playing a Nick Saban-coached team coming off a loss could be a major problem for coach Mike Leach and the Bulldogs.
How the Tide turnedNot even the unbeaten Crimson Tide could overcome one of the sloppiest games we’ve seen from a Nick Saban-coached team in recent memory. They turned the ball over twice, committed boneheaded penalties and routinely dropped passes. You’d think quarterback Bryce Young was out there throwing around flaming hot coals to would-be receivers.
It was the most un-Alabama performance you’ll ever see.
That isn’t to say Young isn’t without fault. He missed some key throws in the game that led to the Texas A&M stunner at College Station.
How will Alabama respond?
That’s the biggest question heading into Saturday’s game against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs did what the Crimson Tide couldn’t do: They went into Texas A&M and knocked off the Aggies in their last outing.
So Mississippi State is no joke. But neither is Alabama when they aren’t beating themselves. If they play clean football and make all of the routine plays, it’ll be smooth sailing for Saban’s squad. Mississippi State doesn’t have a lot to offer on offense outside of the passing attack, which tops all teams in the SEC. However, they bottom out on the ground with an offense averaging only 56.2 rushing yards per game.
It’s like their runners are stuck in mud.
But Alabama isn’t playing well in the trenches on offense or defense. Young is getting knocked around in the pocket on offense, and the defense couldn’t find a quarterback in a phone booth. It has been a real issue for the same program that ranked second in the conference in sacks last season. I’m eager to see if they can turn things around with a little fire under them on Saturday.
Linebacker Drew Sanders is listed as questionable on the injury report for this game with a hand injury.
Which Mississippi State team will we see?The Bulldogs had the 12th man on hush mode at College Station a couple of weeks ago.
That obviously didn’t last long with Texas A&M rising up and knocking off an Alabama team that was ranked No. 1 in the country. Will we see the Bulldogs team that beat the Aggies or the one that fell to LSU and Memphis in back-to-back games?
If it’s the latter, it’s going to be a long night for Mike Leach and company.
The good news is Alabama isn’t generating sacks consistently. So quarterback Will Rogers will have time to sit back in the pocket and throw the ball downfield. Considering the way the Crimson Tide has looked at times defensively, he might even have enough time to make a phone call or two in the process. He’s completing 75.7 percent of his passes for 1,862 yards, 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
As of right now, he’s thrown for the third-most yards in the country in a pass-happy Bulldogs offense. Alabama may not get after the quarterback enough in games, but they are taking the ball away. They’re currently ranked second in the conference in turnover margin with at least seven interceptions. So Rogers can’t get careless with his passes. As long as the Bulldogs take care of the football on offense, they can keep this game close.
Alabama’s defense is on the ropes, and Bryce Young and company looked uncharacteristically sloppy offensively. Mississippi State is only allowing 89.2 yards per game on the ground, which could force Alabama to try to win with Young’s arm again. That didn’t turn out well for them on the road at Texas A&M, and perhaps that’ll remain the case against the Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
You wouldn’t dare catch me betting against a Nick Saban team coming off a loss.
Texas A&M deserves the brunt of the credit for playing an incredible game last week, but make no mistake, Alabama was their own worst enemy in that meeting. They had every opportunity to put the Aggies’ upset hopes in the dirt, but they were ultimately done in by turnovers, penalties, bad throws and dropped passes. It was an ugly all-around effort that has some fans calling for the jobs of the coordinators.
The Crimson Tide will take the temperature down in the room by delivering a stellar bounce-back performance on the road against a one-dimensional Bulldogs team. They’ll put up a better fight against the passing offense for Mississippi State than they did against Texas A&M in what will be one of their better overall defensive efforts in the season.
A loss on Saturday could sound the proverbial death knell for the Crimson Tide’s playoff aspirations. So they’ll come out fired up and flying all over the field. On the offensive side of things, Bryce Young will have a better outing with receivers actually coming up with catches instead of dropping them.
Alabama’s passing offense is averaging the second-most yards in the SEC with the most touchdowns (21). If Mississippi State has a weakness, it would come on the backend of their defense with the unit allowing an average 229 passing yards per game with 10 touchdowns in five games played this season.
This is a get-right test for the Crimson Tide, and they’ll pass with flying colors. I’m laying the points and taking Alabama.
Full-Game Total Pick
Alabama played their worst game of the season on the road in a tough environment at Texas A&M, and they still came away with 38 points and nearly pulled out a victory. The Crimson Tide ranks second in the conference in average points per game with an offense capable of getting the job done through the air and on the ground. Brian Robinson Jr. is a sledgehammer on the ground and a tremendous complement to Bryce Young under center, assuming they consistently use him enough. I’m expecting this game to focus more on the passing attack with Mississippi State’s defense being so vulnerable in the secondary. Give me the over in this one.