Davis Wade Stadium Starkville

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Pick & Prediction OCT 16TH 2021

Logo Alabama Crimson Tide
Logo Mississippi State Bulldogs

-17.5 -110
59o -111



Alabama committed just enough miscues to undermine its performance last weekend against Texas A&M and snuff any aspirations for completing an unblemished season.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban addressed those shortcomings in short order following a 41-38 road loss that dropped Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC) from first place to fifth in the polls. In preparation for their second consecutive road conference game, this time at Mississippi State (3-2, 2-1) at Davis Wade Stadium, the Crimson Tide are honing in on the specific tasks ahead.

Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers is the only quarterback in the SEC with 400 passing yards and multiple touchdowns in the same game, a feat he has accomplished twice.

Alabama rolled to a 41-0 home win over Mississippi State last year; but with the loss to A&M fresh in their minds, the Crimson Tide are aware of what is required to slow the Bulldogs.

"I don't think there's any question about the fact that you've got to rotate players and keep a lot of fresh players in the game," Saban said. "You've got to rush three guys sometimes, you've got to rush four guys sometimes, you've got to rush five guys sometimes. I think you've got to mix it up and disguise what you're doing."

The challenge in facing Alabama is annually the same. The Crimson Tide are juggernauts, and the loss at Texas A&M doesn't alter that fact. The Aggies did prove that Alabama isn't infallible, and their effort last week set something resembling a template for crafting an upset victory.

A large part of that challenge is mental. If the Bulldogs play with the vigor they showcased against LSU and Texas A&M over consecutive weeks, opportunities will manifest to push the Crimson Tide to the limit. How the Bulldogs manage the emotional roller coaster will be crucial.

"Your best is always enough," Bulldogs coach Mike Leach said. "You've got to be disciplined enough to do your best, focus in, don't get discouraged and don't get too hyped if something good happens for you. It's the discipline to constantly bring your best effort and not get distracted by the highs and the lows. And I think it takes discipline to do that. That's the key."

The Bulldogs do have the benefit of having already done what Alabama could not: defeat the Aggies in College Station. The combination of that result on the heels of a narrow loss against LSU and in advance of an open week set the foundation for an optimistic approach.

Film study of the Alabama loss might offer an additional incentive. The Crimson Tide so frequently throttle foes that not only are defeats rare, but close games are, too. If the Bulldogs need proof that a shocking result is possible, Leach needs only to remind them of what has already been done.

"One thing with Alabama, watching a team that plays them to the wire -- not everybody does," Leach said. "So that's beneficial from that tape.

"You've just got to try and stay even-keeled. You always fight that with a young group, but I have seen some positive things. I thought we did that through the A&M game, so that was pretty good practice with regard to that in a tough environment where it's tough to communicate."

--Field Level Media

Alabama Crimson Tide
Mississippi State Bulldogs

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa guided the offense to touchdowns on the Alabama's first five possessions, but he may have played one series too many in the No. 5 Crimson Tide's 38-7 victory over Mississippi State Saturday in Starkville, Miss.

Tagovailoa appeared to be done for the afternoon with the Tide (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) leading 35-7, but he returned with 3:42 left in the second quarter and suffered an injured hip as he was tackled under a heavy rush on third down. He also appeared to have a bloody nose.

Tagovailoa was taken off the field on a cart and later transported from the stadium. He completed his first eight pass attempts and was 14-of-18 passing for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns before leaving.

Tagovailoa wasn't the only casualty in the hard-hitting game. Wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was helped off the field in the third quarter, and defensive linemen Raekwon Davis (ankle) and D.J. Dale (knee) also left the game with injuries for Alabama.

The Bulldogs (4-6, 2-5 SEC) lost leading rusher Kylin Hill (upper body) and safety C.J. Morgan (lower body) to injuries in the third quarter. Hill, who came into the game rushing for 114.1 yards a game, was held to 35 on 16 rushes.

Sophomore Mac Jones took over for Tagovailoa and completed 7 of 11 passes for 94 yards in the second half, but the Tide added only a field goal to their halftime bulge.

Running back Najee Harris scored a career-high four touchdowns, three of them rushing, while rushing for 88 yards as the Tide ran their winning streak against the Bulldogs to 12 consecutive games.

Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens completed 12 of 21 passes for 82 yards and rushed for 96 yards, 73 of them on just two plays. His 27-yard run ignited the Bulldogs' 75-yard first-quarter scoring drive. He later had a 46-yard dash in the second half.

--Field Level Media

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