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Derrick Henry Provides Tough Test for Mississippi State Defense

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Is the MSU defense facing college football's Heisman front runner this week?

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama running back Derrick Henry finally burst out of the shadow that had hovered over him all season when it comes to talk of the best running back in college football.

That shadow was Leonard Fournette.

After the LSU running back pounded his way to 200 or more yards in three of the first four games of the season, he became the most recognized player in the land and vaulted himself to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy race.

Derrick Henry started to pick up steam in that race as well, after monster games against Georgia, Texas A&M, and Tennessee.

When Bama and LSU went head to head last Saturday, all eyes were unsurprisingly on the two running backs.

Henry won the battle, and it wasn't even close. He put his team on his back, and handled the heavy workload of 38 carries to throttle the Tigers to the tune of 210 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Fournette was bottled up all night by the Bama defense, and finished with a disappointing 31 yards on 19 carries.

It was the second time in three weeks that Henry went over 200 yards, and the fact that he did it in a primetime game against a solid LSU defense is what put him square in the middle of the Heisman Trophy discussion.

There's no time to rest now.

Henry gets the task of going on the road to face another physical defense in Mississippi State.

But even more challenging, the MSU defense now gets the task of trying to limit Henry.

And that won't be easy by any stretch of the imagination. Bama is feeding their 243-pound stud more and more every week. He's carried the rock 26 or more times each of the last five games -- including his highest output last week against LSU.

One common theme of MSU-Alabama games over the years has been MSU wearing down in the fourth quarter. Facing a back like Henry, they'll have to make sure that doesn't happen again.

The Bulldogs' defense was able to hold up for the duration of last season's game, but they no longer have the same depth they had on the defensive line.

There's a lot on Dak Prescott's shoulders to squeak out enough points on offense for his team to pull off the upset. That's the battle everybody is talking about, Dak vs. the Bama defense.

But if Manny Diaz's guys don't slow down the freight train that is Derrick Henry, I think the numbers that Dak does or doesn't rack up on Saturday is a moot point.

If Henry rolls, so will the Tide.