FWtCT Season Preview: Alabama Game

Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

In 2012, the Mississippi State Bulldogs rolled into Tuscaloosa with a full serving of belief, but by the time the visit to Bryant-Denny was done, the Bulldogs had suffered what would be the first of five losses in six games to close out their season.

When: November 9

Time and Place: TBA, Davis-Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi.

TV: Probably ESPN 6 pm game

2012 Result: Alabama 38 Mississippi State 7

The Mississippi State Bulldogs opened their 2012 campaign with seven consecutive victories to run their record to 7-0 and reach a BCS ranking of eleven before making the trip to Tuscaloosa to take on the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. By the end of the first quarter #webelieve was quickly becoming a thing of the past as the Crimson Tide. The comments from Alabama players made it sound as if they were aware of the #webelieve campaign and used it as motivation against the Bulldogs.

"This is a big game for us and we knew that they were going to come out really believing they could win the game," Tide center Barrett Jones said. "And that's when we knew we had to come out and play hard in the beginning. We really started fast. That's something we talked about all week."

In what became a route, the Crimson Tide took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, effectively sealing the game. Alabama pushed that lead to 24-0 by halftime, and they eventually led 38-0 before Robert Johnson scored on a two-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott with less than 5:00 to play.

Looking ahead to 2013:

Both teams suffered losses to the NFL last year, notably Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay for Mississippi State and Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack, D. J. Fluker, and Eddie Lacy for Alabama among others, but they both bring back some key pieces from 2013. Mississippi State returns Gabe Jackson, Tyler Russell, and LaDarius Perkins while the Crimson Tide bring back A. J. McCarron (2933 yards, 30 touchdowns, 3 interceptions), Amari Cooper (59 catches, 1000 yards, 11 touchdowns) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (five interceptions), and T. J. Yeldon (1108 yards, 12 toucdowns).

In the 2012 matchup, the Crimson Tide jumped ahead 7-0 on their opening drive.T he Bulldogs had a chance to put three points on the board to answer, but Dee Milliner blocked Devon Bell's field goal attempt from 31-yards. Albama took the ball on the next drive and ended it with touchdown, giving Alabama a 14-0 lead.

That start sealed the fate of the Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa. If Mississippi Stat wants to win this game, the Bulldogs will have to capitalize on touchdown opportunities, and they will have to keep Alabama close to prevent the Tide from turning the game over to their running backs and defense.

Of course, this will not be an easy task with McCarron pulling the trigger on offense for Alabama. Last year, against one of the best secondaries ever at Mississippi State (granted, playing in a not so good system), McCarron posted 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Offensively, the Bulldogs' Russell completed 15 of 30 passes for 169 yards and an interception. Perkins ran fifteen times for 38 yards, and as a team, the Bulldogs only picked up 47 yards on the ground.

On paper, none of the matchups in this game look to favor Mississippi State. While missing some pieces, the Alabama defense has a strong secondary, which will prove to be a mighty test for a new corps of Bulldog receivers. The Alabama defense still looks to be nearly impossible to penetrate from the ground as well.

On the flip side, McCarron, who may be looking to put the final touches on a Heisman trophy, and his main target, Cooper, will battle what should be a talented Mississippi State secondary, but one that will still be gaining SEC experience and may still be in the act of gelling as a group depending on any personnel changes. Yeldon will be waiting to carry the ball for Alabama.

The schedule makers did not do any favors for Mississippi State with the placement of this game. The Bulldogs go on the road to South Carolina and Texas A&M before this game, and they have to travel to Little Rock after it. Alabama enters the game after a meeting with LSU, which has to be one of two circled games on the Alabama schedule. That said, do not look for the Tide to overlook Mississippi State.

One interesting note, while Alabama has claimed three of the last four national championships, the last two season have seen the Tide win with one loss. In 2011, they dropped a decision to LSU, and in 2012, they lost to Texas A&M. That loss to Johnny Manziel and the Aggies came in the same week as this game. The LSU loss was also in Novemeber.

Final Prediction: Alabama 34, Mississippi State 10

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