Alabama vs. Mississippi State Game Preview: Everything You Need To Know Before Kickoff
No. 1 Mississippi State (9-0, 5-0 SEC) at No. 5 Alabama (8-1, 5-1 SEC)
When: Saturday, Nov. 15 at 2:30 p.m. CT
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Weather: Sunny with a high of 56 degrees and a low of 40, winds ESE at 5 mph, 0 percent chance of rain
TV: CBS (Play-by-play: Verne Lundquist, color analyst: Gary Danielson, sideline reporter: Allie LaForce)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-play: Eli Gold, color analyst: Phil Savage, sideline reporter: Chris Stewart) and ESPN Radio
Spread: Alabama (-8-8½), according to Danny Sheridan. The Crimson Tide has now been favored in 64 consecutive games, starting with its 2009 BCS National Championship Game victory over Texas.
Last Meeting: Mississippi State cut Alabama’s lead to as close as 10-7 in the third quarter before the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide pulled away to win 20-7 in Starkville last year.
Series History: Alabama leads the series, 76-18-3, including a 41-9-1 record in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide has won six straight and 11 of the last 13 games in the series. Saturday’s contest will be the 99th meeting with Mississippi State.
The Crimson Tide, with the help of some late magic, came from behind to beat LSU in a 20-13 overtime thriller at Death Valley.
Trailing 13-10 with 50 seconds left, Blake Sims and the Alabama marched down the field with no timeouts left and tied the game just before the end of regulation on Adam Griffith’s 27-yard field goal.
In overtime, Alabama received the ball first and quickly moved down into striking distance, where Sims found DeAndrew White for a 6-yard touchdown pass on a fade route. On LSU’s turn on offense following White’s touchdown, the Tigers were turned away by the Crimson Tide defense on four downs, ending the game.
Prior to its late rally, Alabama struggled mightily on offense, particularly in the second half. Still, Sims managed two touchdown passes with 209 yards on 20-of-45 passing, while Amari Cooper broke three more school records in his eight-catch, 83-yard and one-touchdown performance.
For LSU, true freshman running back Leonard Fournette led the way on offense with 21 carries for 79 yards, most of it coming out of the I-formation. The Tigers had 259 total yards of offense, 183 of it rushing, and had 38:16 of possession.
Unlike Alabama, the Bulldogs had a nice, easy tune-up, routing UT Martin 45-16 in Starkville in preparation for its showdown in Tuscaloosa.
Mississippi State had no trouble picking apart the undermanned Skyhawks for its 12th straight win dating back to last season. The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs led 24-3 at the half and 38-3 at the end of three quarters.
Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott was 14-of-23 for 206 passing yards and two touchdowns in the win. He also had 54 yards rushing and one touchdown on six carries from the quarterback position.
Defensively, Mississippi State gave up 367 yards of offense to UT Martin of the Ohio Valley Conference.
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs are 9-0 for the first time in school history.
Keep an eye on:
T.J. Yeldon, running back: Against the 123rd-ranked pass defense in the country, it won’t come as any surprise at all if Amari Cooper has yet another big day; in fact, it should be expected. But what about Yeldon? Despite an ankle sprain sustained in the late going against LSU, the junior is expected to play, but will he be at full strength? Without a healthy Yeldon or Yeldon altogether, few healthy and experienced running backs remain against one of the better run defenses in college football.
Reggie Ragland, linebacker: Each and every week, the junior has elevated his play, making a strong case as the team’s best defensive player in the process. Two weeks ago, he was named a Butkus Award semifinalist and last week, his 13-tackle game at LSU – with a broken hand – earned him SEC Defensive Player of the Week. A similar performance will be vital in stopping dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott and his sidekick, running back Josh Robinson.
Dak Prescott, quarterback: He knows, we know it and Mississippi State knows it. If the Heisman Trophy candidate doesn’t play at the level he has throughout this season, both running and passing, the Bulldogs will have a hard time taking down the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.
Chris Jones, defensive lineman: With it being unlikely that Mississippi State has an answer for Amari Cooper, it will at least need to try to slow down Alabama’s rushing attack. The answer to that would be Chris Jones, a sophomore who sits at the forefront of Mississippi State’s massive defensive line. Jones’ job will only get easier if Yeldon isn’t healthy enough by Saturday for Alabama.
- Running back T.J. Yeldon (ankle) is questionable for Saturday’s game against Mississippi State, though he is expected to play. Yeldon missed the final two series against LSU – the game-tying and game-winning drives – due to a left ankle sprain sustained with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter at LSU. On Monday, Saban said Yeldon was ‘OK’ and did not seem too concerned about the junior running back’s status for this Saturday.
- Left tackle Cam Robinson (ankle) is probable this week after staring and playing the entire game at LSU, despite being only two weeks removed from a high ankle sprain that was originally expected to have a much longer recovery time. On Monday, Robinson was last going through drills at left tackle, but that was likely for precautionary reasons in the event Robinson has a setback this week and is unable to play in the game.
- Tight end Brian Vogler (knee) is expected to have an increased number of reps both in practice and in the game this week. Vogler played sparingly against LSU but has not been limited in practice this week.
- Linebacker Reggie Ragland (hand) will play, despite a broken left hand. After the LSU game last Saturday, Ragland revealed he broke his hand during practice that week but noted that it hasn’t bothered him at all. He had 13 tackles (one for loss) against the Tigers.
LSU has no new major injuries to report.