College breakdown: No. 1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) at Mississippi State (4-5, 1-4)
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Nov 15, 2013 | 1576 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When: 6:45 p.m., today

Where: Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.

Line: Alabama by 25.

TV: ESPN

Radio: 95.5 FM

Four-down territory

1. Take the crowd out:
Mississippi State is a tough place to play simply because of the crowd noise. Fans over in Starkville take pride in their team and they show it by ringing their cowbells. It’s one of the great traditions in the Southeastern Conference.

2. Finish early: Nick Saban called the Bulldogs the best 4-5 team in the country because all of their losses have come to top 20 teams. The Bulldogs have the ability to score so Alabama can’t let them hang around and gain confidence. This would be a good opportunity for the Tide to get more young players some playing time and rest for the veterans.

3. Avoid the letdown: The Tide is coming off another emotional victory over LSU and the last thing it can afford is a slip-up down the stretch. The Bulldogs always seem to find a way to make the game ugly and keep it close when the Tide travels to Starkville. Saban has warned his team throughout the week and told them to avoid the “relief syndrome.” It will be interesting to see if the coaches’ message stuck with the players.

4. Avoid injuries: Alabama is in prime position to make another run at the SEC championship and a national championship. The last thing the team needs is a major injury against a bad opponent. Everyone is a little banged up at this point, so the quicker the Tide finishes off the Bulldogs, the sooner younger players can play.

Key matchup

Alabama’s defense versus Mississippi State’s quarterbacks:
Mississippi State likes to use a two-quarterback system with Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott. Prescott is questionable because of an elbow injury, but he hasn’t been ruled out. Alabama’s defense will have to be alert if the Bulldogs switch quarterbacks. Russell is more of a drop-back passer, while Prescott is a dual threat behind center.

Prediction

While Mississippi State plays Alabama tough at home, this one shouldn’t be close. Alabama is far and away better than the Bulldogs and should be able to finish this game before the fourth quarter. These next couple of weeks will be nice tuneups for the Iron Bowl. ... Alabama 38, Mississippi State 10.
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