#2 Alabama Crimson Tide at #17 Mississippi State Bulldogs
Davis Wade Stadium – Starkville, Mississippi
Saturday, November 14, 2015, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Alabama -7
Current Line: Alabama -8
Opening Total: 49 1/2
Current Total: 51 1/2
Opening Money Line: Alabama -320 / Mississippi State +255
Current Money Line: Alabama -340 / Mississippi State +280
The 8-1 Alabama Crimson Tide travel to the 7-2 Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday in a key SEC contest. Alabama leads the SEC West Division with a 5-1 record and controls their own destiny for the the division title and a date with Florida in the SEC championship game next month. Oh yeah, the Crimson Tide are also #2 in the college football playoff standings. Mississippi State is 3-2 in SEC play and tied for fourth with Arkansas.
This will be an emotional game for the Bulldogs because freshman defensive lineman Keith Joseph, Jr. was killed in a car accident last Friday along with his father, also a former Bulldog player.
Alabama has dominated the series against Mississippi State 77-18-3 and the two teams have been playing since 1896. They have played annually since 1948. The Crimson Tide have won 7 straight games against the Bulldogs including 25-20 last year in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama is coached by Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide have a home loss to Ole Miss 43-37. Alabama has a win over Wisconsin 35-17 in Arlington, Texas, road wins at Georgia 38-10, Texas A&M 41-23 and Tennessee 19-14, plus home wins over Middle Tennessee 37-10, UL-Monroe 34-0, Arkansas 27-14 and LSU last week 30-16.
LSU entered the showdown last week against Alabama as the SEC’s only undefeated team. However, the Crimson Tide were 7.5 point favorites at home and the total was 47. Neither team scored in the first quarter. Alabama took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, but LSU would tie it up with just over two minutes left. However, the Crimson Tide would score 20 unanswered points to take control of the game. LSU scored a late cosmetic touchdown. The extra point was blocked, ensuring the game stayed under the total. Alabama held LSU to 182 total yards. LSU running back Leonard Fournette had only 31 rushing yards after rushing for at least 150 yards in every other game. Alabama had 434 total yards. The Crimson Tide are 4-5 ATS and the total is 3-6 this season.
Mississippi State is coached by Dan Mullen. The Bulldogs have a home loss against LSU 21-19 and at Texas A&M 30-17. MSU has road wins at Southern Miss 34-16, Auburn 17-9 and Missouri last Thursday 31-13. The Bulldogs have home wins over Northwestern State 62-13, Troy 45-17, Louisiana Tech 45-20 and Kentucky 42-16. The Bulldogs have won 4 straight games.
MSU was a 7.5 point favorite against Missouri and the total was 41. The Bulldogs took a 14-13 lead going into halftime. Mississippi State scored 17 straight points in the third to seal the win. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter. Each team had two turnovers. The Bulldogs are 6-3 ATS and the total is 4-5 this season.
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Alabama is outscoring teams 33-16 this season. Alabama is #7 in points allowed and #45 in scoring. The Crimson Tide average 423 yards per game on offense including 228 passing and 195 rushing yards. Alabama is #46 or better in total and rushing offense. On defense, Alabama is allowing 265 yards per game including 190 passing and 76 rushing yards. Alabama is #3 in total defense and #2 in rush defense nationally. Even the pass defense is #25 nationally. The Crimson Tide have forced 18 turnovers and have 15 of their own. Alabama averages 64 penalty yards per game and opponents average 53. Alabama is 52/144 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 47/151. The Crimson Tide have forced 29 sacks and allowed 16 this season. Alabama is 35/41 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns and opponents are 16/19 with 10 touchdowns. The Crimson Tide have four pick sixes and a punt return for a touchdown this season.
Quarterback Jake Coker has thrown for 1,807 yards with 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, along with 51 rushing yards on 48 carries and 2 touchdowns. Cooper Bateman has thrown for 244 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions.
Running back Derrick Henry has 218 carries for 1,254 yards and 17 touchdowns, plus 8 catches for 69 yards. He has a rushing touchdown in 14 straight games dating back to last season. Kenyan Drake has 68 carries for 333 yards and a touchdown, along with 19 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with a head injury. Damien Harris has 31 carries for 105 yards.
Receiver Calvin Ridley has 52 catches for 576 yards and 3 touchdowns. ArDarius Stewart has 34 catches for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns. O.J. Howard has 28 catches for 308 yards. Richard Mullaney has 27 catches for 258 yards and 3 touchdowns. Robert Foster has 10 catches for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns, but is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Chris Black is also out for the season with an ankle injury.
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Mississippi State is outscoring teams 35-17 this season. The Bulldogs are #11 in points allowed and #37 in scoring. MSU averages 443 total yards including 296 passing and 147 rushing yards. The Bulldogs are #20 in passing, #37 in total offense but #96 in rushing out of 128 teams. On defense, MSU is allowing 369 yards per game including 202 passing and 168 rushing yards. The Bulldogs are in the top 50 nationally in both total and pass defense. MSU has forced 11 turnovers but has 10 of their own. The Bulldogs average 37 penalty yards per game and opponents average 45. Mississippi State is 49/121 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 54/158. MSU has forced 25 sacks and has allowed 13 this season. The Bulldogs are 32/36 scoring in the red zone with 27 touchdowns and opponents are 24/31 with 10 touchdowns. MSU has four defensive/special teams touchdowns.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has completed 66.7% of his passes for 2,351 yards with 18 touchdowns and one interception, along with 86 carries for 418 yards and 7 touchdowns. Back-up Nick Fitzgerald has 3 passing touchdowns and 3 rushing touchdowns. Elijah Staley also has a touchdown pass.
Running back Brandon Holloway has 48 carries for 220 yards, plus 17 catches for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ashton Shumpert has 50 carries for 174 yards and a touchdown, plus 13 catches for 117 yards. Aeris Williams has 35 carries for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns, and four catches.
Receiver De’Runnya Wilson has 37 catches for 626 yards and 8 touchdowns. Fred Ross has 51 catches for 548 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fred Brown has 20 catches for 313 yards and two touchdowns. Donald Gray has 14 catches for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gus Walley has 15 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Gabe Myles has 6 catches for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown. Four defensive players are listed on the injury report.
Alabama is 4-0 ATS against teams with winning home records and in road games, 2-5 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 1-7-1 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 0-4 after a cover, and 0-5 after rushing for over 200 yards. The under is 13-2-1 in this series recently. including 7-0 in Starkville.
Mississippi State is 4-0 ATS after passing for more than 280 yards, 6-1 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 5-1 at home and after a straight up win, 4-1 in SEC games, after a cover, and after allowing less than 20 points, 16-5 against teams with winning road records, 6-2 overall, 5-2 on grass, 12-5 against teams with winning records, 7-3 in November, and 1-4 after allowing 200 rushing yards or more. The home team has covered four of the last five games in this series.
After an early loss to Ole Miss, Alabama has won six straight games. However, there have been some close calls. I think this will be another close game for the Tide, but they escape with a win in a low scoring game.