The Alabama Crimson Tide have been rolling over every team in its path like a steamroller. There has even been some chatter that this may be the finest squad that the dynasty has fielded during its recent stellar run, and that’s not hyperbole. Yes, the number one team in the nation is that good.
The #18 Mississippi State Bulldogs are the latest squad to step up to the plate and take a swing at a squad that looks to have a date with the #1 seed in the College Football Playoff all but sewn up. To make things even more daunting, the Bulldogs will be heading to Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, which is not exactly the friendliest of confines for SEC foes.
The Bulldogs are big underdogs for this contest – try three touchdowns plus a field goal on for size – and there are obviously questions on whether or not they can make a game of it. Everyone else on Alabama’s schedule has tried and failed on that front, including the nationally ranked LSU Tigers last week. That said, a team doesn’t get to #18 in the nation without bringing at least something to the table.
Can Mississippi State put a chink in the Crimson Tide’s armor? Or will the Crimson Tide roll over another opponent with ease? We’ll find out on Saturday afternoon. Let’s take a look at this matchup in full detail.
Mississippi State @ Alabama, 3:30 PM EST, CBS
- Mississippi State +24 (-125)
- Alabama -24 (+105)
- Over 53 (-112)
- Under 53 (-108)
Mississippi State vs. Alabama pick:
Mississippi State enters this contest with a mark of 6-3 and sits in fifth place in the loaded SEC West division. Don’t let that ranking fool you. The Bulldogs three losses come against conference foes, and they have obviously shown more than enough to pollsters to earn a #18 national ranking.
Since starting the season with a mark of 3-2, Mississippi State has won three of its last four, which includes victories over conference rivals Auburn and Texas A&M, both of which were nationally ranked at game time. Last week, the Bulldogs slapped around Louisiana Tech, with the final score checking in at 49-3.
The offense has been relatively efficient but unspectacular while averaging 29.1 points per game. Senior QB Nick Fitzgerald has had a challenging season. On the year, he’s completing just 50.8 percent of his passes for 1,252 yards, 10 scores, and seven picks. Fitzgerald has also rushed for 839 yards and seven scores.
The rest of the backfield is essentially a committee, and there have been no major standouts among the wideouts. The defense has been a different story, as the unit is strong against both the pass and the run. The unit has allowed just 12.3 points per game while racking up 23 sacks and 10 turnovers.
For perspective on Alabama’s dominance in 2018, one needs to only take a gander at the squad’s total points for and against: Alabama 462, Opponents 127. Its closest game was against Texas A&M back on September 22. The Crimson Tide won that one by a final score of 45-23. While the Aggies had a few flashes in the game, it really wasn’t close at all.
Last week, Alabama hit the road to face off with the #3 LSU Tigers and proceeded to take ownership of the joint while walking out with a 29-0 victory. The team looks like a straight up juggernaut, and that’s not hyperbole. Sophomore Tua Tagovailoa is the overwhelming favorite for the Heisman Trophy. A stat line that includes 30 total touchdowns and only one pick has a tendency to bolster enthusiasm.
Senior Damien Harris and sophomore Najee Harris have evolved into a dynamic duo out of the backfield, while sophomore Jerry Jeudy leads a talented group of pass catchers. Quite simply, Alabama can slap opponents around pretty much any way it chooses. Shutting down the offense doesn’t seem to be a realistic option, and no opponent has been able to contain it as of yet.
This being a Crimson Tide squad, one would assume that it has some serious defensive chops as well. That assumption would be correct, as the unit is allowing just 14.1 points per contest with serious strength against both the pass and the run. On the year, Alabama has compiled 31 sacks, 18 turnovers, and five defensive scores.
Alabama closes out its regular season with games against The Citadel and rival Auburn before heading to the SEC title game versus Georgia. For Mississippi State, it’s a home date with Arkansas and a road tilt versus rival Ole Miss to finish out 2018.
This rivalry stretches all the way back to 1896, a 20-0 victory for Alabama. The two programs have met 102 times in total, with the Crimson Tide holding a dominant edge of 82-17-3. That has held true in recent times as well, as the Crimson Tide are a perfect 10-0 straight up versus Mississippi State over the past decade and 6-4 against the spread.
The over has come out in each of the last two meetings, the only times that has happened over the past decade. Last year, Alabama was a 14-point favorite and pulled out a 31-24 road victory. The spread is a lot larger this time around at 24 points, with the Crimson Tide a huge home favorite in a game with a projected total of 53 points.
We have been here a couple of times this season with Alabama facing off with a good defensive squad. Each time, there were some thoughts that this would be the week that the Crimson Tide would be slowed down. It hasn’t happened. There’s nothing to suggest it will happen this week either.
That’s not a slight against Mississippi State, it’s just the reality that this year’s Crimson Tide team is just that good. The Bulldogs have the chops to stay in the game with pretty much any program in the nation, but we just don’t see it happening this week.
We’ll take Alabama minus a hefty amount of points.