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Cowbell Collective--Alabama vs Mississippi State

Mark and I tackle this week's questions in the latest edition of the Cowbell Collective.

The Bulldogs have got a really tough test Saturday night when they face off against Alabama.  The Crimson Tide are coming off a tough loss to the Bayou Bangles and the Bulldogs are ready to pounce on the opportunity to pull an upset. 

As always, feel free to make your own opinions known in the comment's section.  Here are this week's questions:


1.  The game between Alabama and LSU last week resulted in a loss for the Crimson Tide.  One could argue that 'Bama is going to be mad and ready for a little sweet revenge when they roll into Davis-Wade on Saturday night.  On the other hand, LSU beat up on the Alabama players pretty good throughout the game, so it could also be argued that the Tide is bruised and battered right now.  So my question is this:  In your opinion, will last week's loss hurt or help the Crimson Tide's efforts this week against the Bulldogs?

Mark:  Frankly I can see it going either way.  Granted Alabama’s bad game is still better than most teams good games, but after a tough, physical loss I could see Alabama coming out flat, unmotivated and still frankly thinking about last weekend’s game and how they could be undefeated still and on the way to a national championship game.  However, I could also see Alabama channeling that anger and frustration into one hell of a game and just coming out and putting us away early.  My best guess: Alabama comes out flat like they have much of the year, but they pick it up in the 2nd half and the offense begins to click on all cylinders.

Chris:  My heart tells me that a beaten and emotionally drained team will step onto the field Saturday night and play well below their potential.  If that happens, the Bulldogs will capitalize and most likely add to the Crimson Tide's woes.  Unfortunately, my head is reminding me that my heart also said we'd win nine regular season games this year.  Having said that, Alabama is probably gonna enter Davis-Wade on a mission.  They're going to do everything they can to make themselves feel better about the recent loss to LSU by putting a major butt-kicking on the Bulldogs.

2.  Vick Ballard made it clear before the season began that his goal would be to exceed 1,000 yards for the season.  He is currently at 790 with three games to go.  I don't think anyone questions Ballard's importance to the Bulldog offense, but I also think it's fair to say that he's been hot and cold up to this point in the season.  Now he's got to contend with SEC defenses through the remainder of the year.  Will he hit or exceed his goal of a 1,000 yards?

Mark:  I’m going to say Vick will exceed the goal WITH a bowl game included.  With Alabama being one of those 3 games, it may be difficult to accomplish 1,000 yards.  Another factor is the continuingly increasing playing time of one LaDarius Perkins, and if Perkins continues to play well then Vick will get less touches. 

Another factor working against Vick is playing No. 3 and No. 5 the next two weeks, and potentially being behind in those games.  Generally when you get behind at some point you have to start throwing the football (if you truly want to still win) and that will hurt Vick’s touches count.  That being said, Ole Miss’ defense is terrible, and I could see Vick getting 100+ against them, which would mean he would have only had to gained about 50yds/game vs. Bama and Arky.  Could be close, but I’m certainly rooting for Vick to accomplish that goal.

Chris:  At this point in the season, I just don't see it happening, at least not in the regular season.  As Mark pointed out, back to back games against two of the toughest teams in the SEC will make the feat very hard to do.  I believe if a bowl game is included it will most definately happen. 

 3.  Which Alabama player do you think will have the biggest impact (could be good or bad) on the outcome of Saturday night's game?

Mark:  Going to self-deduct points for lack of originality here, but I will go with Trent Richardson.  This team has gone as Trent goes this season, and with a loud crowd and a young QB I think the load will be put squarely on Richardson’s shoulders. 

Chris:  I'm going to go a different direction and pick Alabama's young quarterback, A.J. McCarron.   McCarron is coming off his first loss since he's been the starter.  We've seen how well he plays when everything is going good and the team is winning.  I'm curious to know how he handles defeat.  Now that the national championship run is in serious jepordy, how will it effect McCarron and his performance.  Will the fire in his belly be as hot as it was before the loss?  Will his style of change play at all now that he knows another loss will pretty much kill any glimmer of hope that may still exist for that championship run?  If Alabama somehow finds a way to lose this game, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to me all if McCarron is the reason why.

 4.  Will Coach Saban throw one of his trademark temper tantrums during the game?

Mark:  I can only hope so.  The one he threw in 2007 when Boobie hurtled that Alabama defender still cracks me up to watch on youtube.

Chris:  Maybe, just maybe we'll see a headset thrown, or another player get spanked on national t.v.  A Saban tantrum can only mean good things for State.  I'm guessing we'll see at least one.


5.  I'm reluctant to ask this, but......scoring predictions???

Mark:  Being honest with myself, I’d say 31-14 Bama.  Embracing my homerism, I’d say 21-20 State.  Hey, a guy can hope.

Chris:  I refuse to say Mississippi State will win...I'm not getting my hopes up I have no choice to but to say Alabama wins 85-0...