Place: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
A visit from 12th-ranked and undefeated Mississippi State on Saturday night might represent the toughest challenge so far this season for No. 1 Alabama – but that isn’t saying much.
The Crimson Tide have rolled through their first seven games, winning each by at least 19 points and by an average of 32.7 points and trailing for only 15 seconds all season.
They will try to crush the upstart Bulldogs’ hopes of contending in the SEC West for at least another year. Mississippi State is trying to match the 1999 team for the best start in school history, but the Bulldogs have not faced a current top-25 team, and their most impressive win so far is a 41-31 home victory over Tennessee. Alabama thumped then-No. 8 Michigan 41-14 to open the season but has faced a relatively easy slate since.
The Bulldogs represent the first of three straight top-25 opponents for the Crimson Tide, who travel to LSU next week and host Texas A&M on Nov. 10. Alabama has dominated the series, which dates back to 1896, leading 74-18-3. The Crimson Tide have won the past four meetings – by a 117-27 margin – and nine of the past 11.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-0, 3-0 SEC): The Bulldogs have done everything well so far, trailing for just 16:11 while putting up balanced numbers on offense and holding strong in the red zone on defense. Mississippi State has been especially tough against the pass (188.6 yards per game) but will need to be stronger against the run (139.1 yards per game) against an Alabama offense that can pound it on the ground.
The offense isn’t likely to put up the big numbers it has become accustomed to this week, but quarterback Tyler Russell (1,573 yards, 15 TDs) and running back LaDarius Perkins (724 yards, 8 TDs) should represent the biggest test yet for Alabama’s dominant defense.
Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0): The Crimson Tide have been about as efficient as possible while dominating on both sides of the ball, especially in the red zone. Alabama has scored on 30 of 31 red-zone trips (23 TDs, 7 FGs) and has allowed opponents to score on just 7 of 12 red-zone trips. Quarterback A.J.
McCarron has contributed greatly to the offensive efficiency, throwing for 16 touchdowns without an interception. McCarron has gone a school-record 249 passes without an interception. The running game also has been impressive with Eddie Lacy (570 yards, 7 TDs) and T.J. Yeldon (565 yards, 6 TDs) leading the way.
1. Alabama is one of only two FBS teams that hasnot thrown an interception this season, along with Louisiana Tech. The Crimson Tide’s last interception came last season against Mississippi State.
2. Mississippi State has scored 27 or more points in each game this season, the first time in school history the Bulldogs have topped 25 points in seven straight games.
3. Over its past 21 games, Alabama has allowed just one opponent to reach 300 total yards (Georgia Southern, 341) and has kept 12 opponents under 200 yards and two under 100.