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Mississippi State football opponent preview: Alabama

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Be thankful for the bye week beforehand.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Alabama The Tuscaloosa News-USA TODAY Sports

You hear fun little sentences like, “this is the season Alabama takes a step back,” every couple of years or so. And we’re hearing it in some circles of the media this season.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Junior wide receiver John Metchie III is poised to be the next great Alabama pass catcher following a recent slew of them. He’s one of the best weapons in the Southeastern Conference and there will be others out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, even if they’re not household names yet.

To think any differently is naïve.

Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young is a question mark, and how he fits with new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is a bigger one. However, that’s not enough evidence to create a convincing argument that the Crimson Tide shouldn’t be the favorites in the SEC West.

As for the conference as a whole, Georgia should be the conference favorite, but knowing Georgia, no guarantees can be made in that department. After that, it’s Alabama, and beyond the Crimson Tide, no one’s close.

Linebackers Christian Harris, a junior, and Will Anderson Jr., a sophomore, will anchor a Crimson Tide defense that returns eight starters, a unit that should be one of the most formidable in the country.

Prediction:

Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach has as much potential to usurp a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team as any coach in the conference, and an argument for this season could be desperately reached for, but I cannot throw money at that just yet.

It is worth noting Mississippi State’s bye week proceeds its hosting of the Crimson Tide and Alabama will be fresh off a road trip versus a Texas A&M team that I don’t believe is all that good, but others view the Aggies as a worthy challenger. That is the recipe for a trap game, Lord willing.

If my belief in a scrappy Mississippi State team that remains just above .500 throughout the season proves true, perhaps Starkville will see a more competitive game with the Tide than in recent outings.

But maybe don’t hold your breath.