In stunning fashion, No. 5 Alabama was knocked off by Texas A&M last week, so it's on a mission to bounce back here in Week 7 and get things back on the right track. Being the team that draws the Crimson Tide after a defeat is one of the more unenviable positions in college football, and Mississippi State will be facing that challenge as it hosts the Crimson Tide at Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday night.
Alabama fell four spots in the polls this week following its 41-38 loss at Texas A&M. It was the second time Alabama played a true road game this season -- they opened the year at a neutral site against Miami -- and it was the second time it struggled. Remember, Florida was a two-point conversion away from forcing a possible overtime against Alabama in a 31-29 loss.
Now Alabama is on the road again, this time against a Mississippi State team that beat the same A&M team that beat it. Plus, while the Tide were losing to the Aggies last week, the Bulldogs were at home on a bye, getting an extra week to prepare for the Tide.
Of course, if Mississippi State is dreaming of an upset, there's not much history to suggest it's likely to happen. Alabama and Mississippi State have played 104 times in history, and Alabama has dominated the series 83-18-3. Mississippi State hasn't beaten Alabama since a 17-12 win in Starkville in 2007. That just happened to be Nick Saban's first season and the Tide have reeled off 13 straight wins since.
Alabama vs. Mississippi State: Need to know
Alabama hasn't lost two games in a row since 2013: It was the final season before the College Football Playoff began. Alabama lost to Auburn 34-28 in The Iron Bowl. That, of course, was the infamous Kick-Six game that knocked Alabama out of the BCS Championship Game. Instead, the Tide went to New Orleans to face Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, losing 45-31. The world began to wonder if the Alabama dynasty had come to an end. It turns out it was a stupid thing to consider, but you can bet they'll ask the same question if Alabama loses to Mississippi State this week.
Look for Alabama to run the ball more: While Saban rarely comes out and says things directly, judging by some of his comments following the loss to Texas A&M, he probably wants to see the Tide run the ball a little more. Brian Robinson rushed for 147 yards on 24 carries in the game, averaging 6.13 yards per carry, but only two of his carries came inside the 10-yard line. Alabama has been bad inside the red zone and in goal-to-go situations, scoring touchdowns on only 71.4% of its goal-to-go possessions. That's below the national average of 75.3% and ranks 86th nationally. It's not where you'd expect to find a team of this caliber.
Mississippi State has scored seven points in the last three games against Alabama: I mentioned how Alabama has dominated this series throughout history, but the last three years have been especially troublesome for the Bulldogs. In the three seasons since Dan Mullen left for Florida, Alabama has outscored State 103-7. Last season, in Mike Leach's first game against Alabama, the Bulldogs were held to 200 yards of offense and went 2-for-15 on third down. They also turned the ball over three times.
How to watch Alabama vs. Mississippi State live
Date: Saturday, October 16 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Davis Wade Stadium -- Starkville, MS
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Alabama vs. Mississippi State prediction, picks
I don't have a high level of confidence in this pick. I'm very confident that Alabama will win the game, but given how badly the Crimson Tide have struggled on the road, I'm not willing to trust them to cover a spread this large. With that in mind, I don't know how many points the Bulldogs can be trusted to score! My honest advice is to stay away from this game unless the spread gets as low as Alabama -14 or as high as Mississippi State +20. I doubt either scenario happens. Prediction: Mississippi State (+17)
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