Matchup: #1 Mississippi State at #5 Alabama (-10, 52.5 at JustBet)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 15th @ 3:30 pm (EST)
Location: Tuscaloosa, AL (airing on CBS)
Preview: The #5 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide take on the #1 ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs in an SEC conference battle with huge national championship playoff ramifications.
The Crimson Tide sit at 9-1 and are currently ranked 5th in the national playoff rankings. They are coming off a big 20-13 win over LSU in Baton Rouge. Alabama was down 13-10 in the fourth quarter, but quarterback Blake Sims led a 55 yard drive in the final 50 seconds to set up a 27 yard field goal to force overtime. The Crimson Tide then scored on the first possession of overtime, with DeAndrew White catching a 6 yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims. The Crimson Tide were definitely in a dog fight in Baton Rouge, and the Tigers had success running the ball but their one dimensional offense hurt them in the end. The Tigers controlled the time of possession by a large margin, and ran the ball for 183 yards yet their inability to move the ball through the air was their ultimate downfall. It was apparent in the final drive of overtime, when LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings missed on 4 straight passing attempts.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs sure opened some eyes this season back on September 20 when they were 9 point underdogs heading into Death Valley to face the LSU Tigers. The Bulldogs stormed out to a 14–0 first-quarter lead and never looked back defeating the Tigers 34–29 to put the rest of the SEC conference on notice. Fast forward to now, and Mississippi State has faced every challenge and is now the top ranked team in the nation. The Bulldogs have quite the impressive resume with wins over the aforementioned LSU Tigers, Texas A&M, and Auburn. They are led by quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott, who has completed 61% of his passes for 2231 yards and 18 touchdowns. Prescott can also get it done on the ground with 779 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, and some would say that Prescott is a more athletic version of Tim Tebow.
Both teams coming to this match up with solid defensive fronts. Alabama’s rush defense is ranked 3rd in the country allowing just 89.4 yards per game. Mississippi states rush defense isn’t all that bad either, allowing just 126.4 yards per game. There is no doubt that Alabama has the more impressive overall defense, however you have to take a look at last weekend’s game. The LSU offense controlled the clock and dominated time of possession. Alabama’s defense was on the field for 38 minutes and 86 plays against one of the more physical football teams in the nation. Now they have to turn around and play the nation’s top ranked team. If you look at years past the LSU-Alabama game has been rather dramatic and has often come down to the final minutes. In the last two years what has Alabama done the following week? In 2012 the Tide beat the Tigers 21–17, the following week lost at home to Texas A&M 29–24. In 2013, Alabama had their way with LSU defeating them 38–17. The following week? Yeah they won 20-7 against Mississippi State yet had one of their more lackluster performances turning the ball over four times and looking rather lethargic. Mississippi State has handled their business this year on the road and at home. I’m sure head coach Dan Mullen will put it out to the team that they are this big of an underdog and being the number one team in the nation will play the disrespect card. I think the Alabama defense will tire as the game goes on and will have problems containing Dak Prescott. I think Prescott’s Heisman moment will be this weekend in Tuscaloosa, and will end in a victory for the Bulldogs.
2014 Week 12 NCAA Football Pick: Mississippi State +10, Over 52,5
Mississippi State vs Alabama Score Prediction: Mississippi State 35 – Alabama 31