Alabama football fans are not giving Mississippi State much thought. Hopefully, Crimson Tide players are not making the same mistake.
Alabama football fans have violated the 24-hour rule following the victory of LSU. We are still celebrating the ‘Beatdown on the Bayou’ or talking about Georgia in December. Pre-season concerns Mississippi State might be a trap game for the Tide have faded.
If the team were to match fan complacency, Saturday could become a problem. Fortunately, with Nick Saban on guard, the battle against complacency is never-ending.
How good are the western Bulldogs? Better than most Alabama football fans understand. State’s transition from Dan Mullen to Joe Morehead was never going to be easy and it hasn’t been. Morehead was a respected offensive mind before arriving in Starkville, but his previous head coach experience was at the FCS level. Coaching Fordham is nothing like coaching in the SEC. Being an offensive coordinator in the B1G is not either, even at Penn State.
After opening the season 3-0, the Bulldogs lost back-to-back games against Kentucky and Florida. They have won three of their last four games, including wins over Auburn and Texas A&M. The one loss in the four-game run was to LSU in Baton Rouge.
At a respectable 6-3 and ranked No. 18 in the nation, Mississippi State is a good football team. The Bulldogs are very good on defense. The defensive front, led by Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat is stout and better than LSU’s front.
The Bulldogs defense ranks high among FBS teams.
- No. 2 in Scoring Defense
- No. 4 in Team Passing Efficiency Defense
- No. 6 in Total Defense
- No. 7 in Passing Yards Allowed
- No. 9 in Third-down Conversion Percentage Defense
On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs run at an average of 6-yards-per-carry. The problem for Mississippi State is when its running game is controlled, the passing game is inconsistent.
Bulldogs’ QB, Nick Fitzgerald suffered a severe ankle injury in last season’s Egg Bowl. Early in the 2018 season, he struggled to regain form. Never known for passing accuracy, until two games ago, Fitzgerald’s 2018 passing percentage was woeful. He rebounded with two strong passing games against the Aggies and Louisiana Tech when he completed 31-of-50 passes for 484 yards.
The Alabama Crimson Tide is a huge favorite and even if flat, as is often the case in this game, should handle the Bulldogs. But Mississippi State will offer more resistance than many Alabama football fans are anticipating. If the Crimson Tide is going to win ugly in 2018, this could be the game.
We are not sure what will happen when the cowbells set off the metal detectors at Bryant-Denny gates. The best guess is the annoying devices will be allowed in the stadium. They were allowed in Auburn, but cowbells are fitting down on the Plains.