The Alabama Crimson Tide are coming off their only loss of the season, a 46-41 defeat at the hands of Heisman hopeful Joe Burrow and the new No. 1 team in the nation, the LSU Tigers. The Tide will now head to Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville to play the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Currently sitting at No. 4 in the AP Top 25 Poll, the Crimson Tide are now on a mission after their recent loss: win out the rest of the season to prove that they belong in the top five amongst the likes of LSU and Clemson. They’ll start by trying to take down Mississippi State first. Here’s a preview of the game, followed by betting lines and our prediction.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa gave an admirable and gritty performance in a losing effort last week, throwing for 418 yards and four touchdowns on an injured ankle. Whether that ankle will keep Tagovailoa limited against the Bulldogs–or whether it could keep him out entirely–coach Nick Saban isn’t certain yet.
On Wednesday, Saban said Tagovailoa was day-to-day: “He has soreness in his ankle from playing in the game. He is a game-time decision regarding whether he can or cannot play. I don’t even know if he can practice today. It’s kind of day-to-day.”
Tagovailoa’s presence could be a huge one for Alabama and certainly bears monitoring in this one. Alabama backup quarterback Mac Jones should be fine if Tagovailoa can’t go. When Jones started at QB against Arkansas, he went 18-22 for 235 yards and three touchdowns.
Another question surrounding Alabama is its receding defense. Saban’s team missed 25 open-field tackles against LSU, and that simply won’t cut it against anyone, much less top-tier talent. They’re also giving up over 335 yards per game. They will have to tighten up as a unit in upcoming games.
Mississippi State (4-5)
Junior running back Kylin Hill leads the SEC in rushing, and he will lead a Mississippi State attack that currently has two quarterbacks sharing duties in practice. Bulldogs head coach Joe Moorhead has been non-committal about who will be starting at quarterback. Moorhead has been referring to freshman Garrett Shrader and senior Tommy Stevens as “QB 1A and QB 1B,” and who will start against the Tide remains a mystery.
“We’re going to keep practicing and keep giving them reps throughout the week,” Moorhead said. “Maybe one, maybe the other, maybe both…Tommy, from an experience standpoint, has seen more things during the course of his career. Heading into a game against an opponent of this caliber, he can fall back a little bit on that experience.”
Whoever starts under center for the Bulldogs will have their work cut out for them against a Crimson Tide defense out to save some face after giving up nearly 50 points last week.
Alabama at Mississippi State: Trends, Pick and Prediction
Spread: Mississippi State + 17.5
Odds Shark currently has the Crimson Tide winning by a projected score of 47-21, which has Alabama winning, covering the spread and the total score going over 61.5 points.
Some relevant trends surrounding the game courtesy of Odds Shark:
• The Tide are 4-8 ATS in their last 12 games.
• Alabama is 18-2 SU in their last 20 games.
• The Tide are 10-0 SU in their last 10 games against Mississippi State.
• Alabama is 8-1 SU in their last 9 games this season.
• Mississippi State is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games.
• The total has gone OVER in 7 of Mississippi State’s last 10 games.
• Mississippi State is 1-4 SU in their last 5 games.
• The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Mississippi State’s last 12 games against Alabama.
We like Alabama to rebound big-time after their first loss regardless of whether Tagovailoa starts. Mac Jones is fully capable of putting on a show, and the Tide are the better team by far.
Final Prediction: Alabama 51, Mississippi State 17