TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Fresh off its top-5 thrashing at LSU, No. 1 Alabama is home for the rest of the regular season.
The Crimson Tide hosts No. 16 Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m./2:30 p.m. CT on CBS.
Alabama has won 10 consecutive over Mississippi State. It’s about to be 11. Here are five bold predictions about what to expect:
Tua Tagovailoa will top 300 yards passing
Mississippi State is ranked No. 1 in the SEC in passing defense, giving up only 167.2 yards per game through the air. Look for Tua Tagovailoa to soar past that. It wouldn’t be a shock if Tagovailoa went over 300 yards. Tagovailoa made enough plays to win the game against LSU, but he wasn’t his usual surgical self. He’ll rebound in front of the friendly crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday.
Tagovailoa is the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at this point.
Nick Fitzgerald will throw for fewer than 150 yards
Fitzgerald has been held under 150 yards four times, including three times under 100 yards. Mississippi State is 1-3 in those games, with the lone win coming against Auburn when Fitzgerald rushing for 195 yards and 2 touchdowns in that one. (He won’t come close to that number, either.)
Alabama will be the fifth team to hold Fitzgerald under 150 yards. Fitzgerald is a good player, but Alabama’s defense is rounding into form. They’ll be ready for the test.
We will see a lot of Mac Jones
LSU was able to break Tagovailoa’s streak of not playing in the fourth quarter, but that will get restarted Saturday.
With Jalen Hurts still banged up, Alabama fans should expect to see a good bit of Mac Jones on Saturday afternoon. Jones was elevated to backup during the LSU game with Hurts out. He didn’t play much, but Jones should get quite a bit of time after Tagovailoa and the starters wrap things up earlier.
Alabama will score on special teams
It has been awhile since we’ve seen one, so Alabama is due for a special teams touchdown. Josh Jacobs returned a kickoff and Jaylen Waddle took a punt back earlier in the season. One of them will get loose and house a return for six on Saturday. There’s also the possibility of a blocked punt. Either way, this game has the feel of one Alabama’s special teams will step up big.
Alabama will cover the spread
Alabama opened as a 25.5-point favorite over Mississippi State, according to VegasInsider.com. It has dropped to 23.5, but that’s still a huge number for any team against a ranked opponent; it won’t be too much for Alabama.
People scoffed when Alabama opened as a two-touchdown favorite against LSU, and the Crimson Tide went out and held the Tigers scoreless while covering.
Mississippi State is averaging just 13.4 points per game in SEC play. That’s not good, especially against an Alabama defense that is finding itself. Look for both sides of the ball (and special teams) to put on a show for the Crimson Tide on Saturday. Unlike last year, they will not need any fourth-quarter heroics this time.