Mississippi State vs. Alabama: The Big Preview

MSU renews its annual battle with the goliaths just down the road on highway 82 this Saturday. Last year, this very game derailed the Bulldogs' perfect season, and unmasked State as a good, not great team. Will the Bulldogs fare any better than last year's 38-7 thrashing in T-town? Alabama is playing with machine-like efficiency, and losses are few and far between. Will MSU call up the ghosts of 1980, or will last year's demons rue the evening this Saturday night under the lights of Davis Wade? Before kickoff, let FWtCT get you the game information you need with this week's The Big Preview: MSU vs. Alabama.

THE BIG PREVIEW

MSU VS. Bama

MSU vs. Alabama - Header

It's time for week ten of The Big Preview -- as we shout from the rooftops that WE WANT BAM... wait, wait no we don't want this at all.  Nevertheless, it is our turn to ride the Tide pain train, so we'll suit up and give it our best at home this Saturday night.

How is Dak Prescott's health after Saturday's bruising effort in a 41-51 loss to Texas A&M?  If he can't go, will Tyler Russell be up to the task?  Can State reverse its fortunes against the Tide from last year's dismantling? These questions, along with those listed above and 1000s more will be answered under the lights in Starkville on Saturday night, but until that time comes, read up on the game and all of its previewable elements in this week's The Big Preview.

In this week's The Big Preview, we take a good, thorough, and completely serious look at the Alabama Crimson Tide by way of our Totally Serious Opponent Report, our traditional Game Preview, and our matchups preview.  This week's edition of The Big Preview is a little leaner than usual, but we're lean and mean, and we've still got that crazy look in our eyes like Bobby Boucher when you start talking about Gatorade, son.

Click any of the four links below to scroll directly to the section that you're looking for (each section also features a button at the end to take you back to the top of the page):

Game Preview -- Mississippi State vs. Alabama by justinrsutton
Matchups Breakdown: MSU vs. Bama by Metal Building Dawg
Totally Serious Opponent Report by cristilmethod

Game Preview - Alabama

by justinrsutton

MSU vs. Alabama - Sidebar

The Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide meet up Saturday in a game featuring two teams in totally different situations. Alabama comes to Starkville looking to secure four more wins in order to play for a third straight national championship while Mississippi State is looking to win two of its last three games to become bowl eligible.

Leading the Alabama offense is A. J. McCarron. The two-time national championship winning quarterback has often been referred to as a game manager, a term that usually comes with a negative connotation. So far this season, McCarron has thrown for over 2000 yards and 19 touchdowns. Last year, he threw for 2933 yards, 30 touchdowns against three interceptions. While these may not be the X-Box numbers people have come to expect from top quarterbacks, make no mistake, A. J. McCarron is a top quarterback in the country.

At the receiver position, look for Kevin Norwood to be a popular target for McCarron. The senior currently has four touchdowns and 386 yards on 27 receptions. Another popular target in the passing game is Amari Cooper, who has two touchdown catches this year.

Alabama has also developed a reputation for its ability to run the football, and this season is no different. T. J. Yeldon has followed the footsteps of Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Eddie Lacy as a dominant Alabama running back. So far, Yeldon has 862 yards and 12 touchdowns on 140 attempts. Unfortunately, things do not drop off when Kenyan Drake comes into the game. The sophomore has 556 yards and seven touchdowns on 73 carries.

The Alabama offense, so often forgotten in the mix will be a difficult force for Mississippi State to stop. The Bulldogs will be forced to try to stop the run, and they will need to do so with the front seven, with perhaps an eighth man being used. Should Mississippi State be unable to do this, the Bulldogs will be in for a long afternoon of football.

Offensively, the Bulldogs will face a tremendous challenge in the Alabama defense. The Crimson Tide give up under 100 yards per game on the ground, and a good number of the ground yardage gained against Alabama has come well after the outcome of a game has been decided.

If the Crimson Tide has a weakness, it is their passing defense. Injuries have impacted this group throughout the season, and if Mississippi State is going to be successful against this defense, the Bulldogs will have to throw the ball well and often. When considering a passing offense, most feel that Tyler Russell is a better option than Dak Prescott, and given Prescott's listing as questionable for this game, the Bulldogs may have no problem getting Russell into the contest early and often.

Over the course of the season, miscues in the special teams' game have devastated the Bulldogs. Mississippi State won in spite of mistakes against Kentucky, and mistakes played a large role in the Bulldogs' loss to Texas A&M. These mistakes have to disappear for Mississippi State to have a chance to win this contest.

Mississippi State has a history of ruining great Alabama seasons such as in 1980, but the Bulldogs also have a history of losing to Alabama. If Mississippi State wants to be on the right side of history, it will take near-perfect execution in all three phases of the game.

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Injury Report - LSU

Mississippi State Injury Report

Probable

Dak Prescott, Deonte Skinner

Out for Season

Dee Arringon, Jay Hughes, Justin Malone

Matchup Breakdowns: MSU vs. Alabama

by Metal Building Dawg

The gap between Mississippi State and Alabama is REALLY wide, right? Well, by statistics maybe not so much.

  • MSU averages one more yard per game rushing than Bama, 209:208
  • MSU averages six more yards per game passing than Bama, 249:243
  • The difference: scoring offense; Bama is at 40.9 PPG and MSU 29.8 PPG

How about this: Alabama's passing offense which features a Heisman candidate at quarterback and the likes of Kevin Norwood, Deandre White and Amari Cooper at WR is 58th in the country (243.9 YPG). The MSU secondary, the same secondary that has made you punch eight holes in your living room wall the last two weeks, is 57th in the country (231.2 YPG). On paper, this is a good matchup! Maybe we should stack the box and play one-on-one with our corners? Why not, it's not like we've gotten good play out of the safeties (plus Dee Arrington is out for the year).

Bama's defense is suffocating again this year. Against teams who don't have Johnny Manziel playing quarterback they are giving up an average of 6.9 points per game. From Week 4 to Week 8 of the season (5 games) they gave up a grand total of 16 points including shutouts vs. Ole Miss and Arkansas. Mississippi State has scored at least 16 points in every game since Week 2, however, has averaged only 6.8 PPG over the last 4 years vs. the Tide.

Individual matchups are going to be tough. They have a supremely talented player at every position. That's not to say we can't win some one-on-one battles, but we won't win most of them at any position outside possibly Gabe Jackson. We've got to play smart, and not make mistakes. Alabama kills mistakes. They execute and execute and execute and then when you don't they pounce on it and make you pay. Mistakes have been a huge problem for State all year...so we're gonna need to stop that ASAP.

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Totally Serious Opponent Report - Bammar

by cristilmethod

Hey everybody; so this week should be fun!  I mean, as much fun as we can have as a team on a two game losing streak getting ready to face the #1 team in the country as an approximately 456 point underdog! The good news is that for this week's Totally Serious Opponent Report, there may be no fanbase that's an easier target for making fun of than the Alabama Crimson Tide.  Not because of their mostly insane fanbase.  Not because of their endless success throughout their football program's history.  It's because they have BOTH, and therefore we don't feel bad about making fun of them.

I am going to do my best to *inform1* you about the Tahd in a few short paragraphs, but I'd be mistaken if I didn't also include some of the great work done by mister robnoladog last year.  I'll start off with a few points of interest, and them I'm gonna finish strong with noladog's strong 2012 takes:

  • To kick us off, this is worth your time (via robnoladog).
  • I don't think they are graduates of the UofA, but I will give Alabama credit for the band Alabama: who gave us titillating tunes such as Take Me Down and Down Home, all while spreading and promoting acceptance of unibrows.  Music for a cause, y'all.
  • Alabama is also responsible for Rick Muscles, who has been devastating squat racks up and down 459 for years.  Also he wrote this post last year which is one of the funniest things I've ever read at EDSBS and it still makes me laugh today.
  • This is still the #1 selling shirt in the state of Alabama (probably definitely).  Perfect for that Bama fan on your Christmas list.

As is the case with most schools, the run-through the alumni list for Alabama is going to be fun, folks:

  • Dabo Swinney.  Yes, the head coach at Clemson Dabo Swinney.  They call him Dabo, which is short-hand slang for that-boy.  Can't make it up.  Also, because Dabo went to Alabama, can we logically make a case that Clemsoning was berthed at Alabama?  Convince me it wasn't.  I'll wait.
  • Katherine Webb.  Even though she's an Auburn grad, this A.J. McCarron arm-candy is more known for her time spent in crimson, and through the lens of ABC's camera's at the dictation behest of Brent Musburger.  She a pretty obscure name, so we won't waste time covering someone y'all probably have never heard of outside of literally everywhere since January.
  • Jim Nabors.  Gomer Pyle himself owns a degree from the university of Alabama!  Now I won't make fun of Gomer's character or Nabors because I loved some Andy Griffith, but you can make a case that a large portion of the fanbase try to life their lives as Pyle did.
  • Rece Davis.  The ESPN analyst has spent way more time than anyone should have to sandwiched between maybe the two worst ESPN announcers in Jesse Palmer and David Pollack.  Everyone knows that Alabama expects football excellence not only from its players, but from its students.  Students are randomly subjected to drills such as the gauntlet, which makes them tough, and helps them appreciate what the players go through.  That toughness is conceivably the only way we can explain how Davis hasn't gone crazy in the booth on a random Thursday night.
  • Jackie Sherrill and Sylvester Croom.  That's right!  Some of our best years of football and our absolute worst are all thanks to the Tide, both on the field and through the classroom.  The Kang owns a degree from Alabama, and Coach Croom played for The Bear during his playing years in the mid 70s.  So while we can thank Alabama for giving us 3rd and 57, we can also blame them for giving us 3-2.  It's the full spectrum.

And now for our closing, here's a few bits from last year:

IT'S BAMA WEEK, Y'ALL. WHO'S EXCITED? BESIDES COLLETTE. SHE'S ALWAYS EXCITED.

Bama_collette_medium

Alabama football has THE CRAZIEST fan base in all of sports. That isn't just my opinion. It's a fact. BAMA fans take crazy to new and undiscovered levels. They poison opposing teams' trees, worship a coach that's been dead for 30 years, and will gladly expose their genitals in the filthiest of fast food restaurants. I know the saying, "one bad apple spoils the bunch" can be true, but when all of the apples are soaked in Natty Light and left to sit on the track at 'Dega that phrase is about as useless as Sylvester Croom's 2-Minute offense. ROLL TIDE.

They're like some great, dysfunctional house from Game of Thrones. Think Lannisters mixed with Freys mixed with Targaryens. WINTER IS COMING. NAH SON, BAMA IS COMING. ROLL TIDE.

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Alabama RB

T.J. Yeldon is just one of an uncountable number of weapons that the Tide offense features. Can State slow down the machine-line Alabama at all, or will they fare much as Alabama's other opponents have this year? -- John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports


  • Tyler Russell photo included in the injury report courtesy of Bob Levey -- Getty Images
  • 1Alabama fans, there's no need to get all up in arms about what you read in the Totally Serious Opponent Report. We do this every week. It's just for fun. If you're stumbling across this for the first time and now you're all huffy, I'm sorry
  • Editing, style and layout by thecristilmethod
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