STARKVILLE, Miss. – Fourth-ranked Alabama cannot afford another stumble this season as it ventures out to visit Mississippi State in Saturday's SEC contest. The Crimson Tide are ranked fifth in the College Football Playoff rankings after losing 46-41 to LSU in last week's showdown.
TV: Noon. ET, ESPN. LINE: Alabama -17.5.
Junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's ankle injury continues to be an issue and he visibly favored it while passing for 418 yards, four touchdowns and one interception in the loss to LSU. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Wednesday that Tagovailoa's status will be an issue throughout the week, stating "he'll probably be a game-time decision as to whether he can or can't play." Sophomore Mac Jones would be in line to start and he was 18-of-22 passing for 235 yards and three touchdowns while filling in for Tagovailoa in a 48-7 rout of Arkansas on Oct. 26. Mississippi State also beat up on Arkansas the following week 54-24 to end a four-game losing streak before having a bye last weekend.
ABOUT ALABAMA (8-1, 5-1 SEC)
The Crimson Tide are unlikely to earn a spot in the SEC title game and will likely need help from other teams to have a chance to be among the CFP’s Final Four. “I think that everyone needs to make the commitment to finish the season the right way,” Saban told reporters. “We don’t fully have control of our own destiny, but if we finish the season the right way, we can see where it takes us. We’ve been in this situation before.” Alabama had allowed just 122 points all season before LSU carved up the unit with 29 first downs and 559 yards, including 393 passing yards from Joe Burrow.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (4-5, 2-4)
Junior running back Kylin Hill has 1,027 rushing yards and a career-best 234 of them came against Arkansas in the fifth-best, single-game performance in school history. Hill has topped 100 yards six times this season but the quarterback situation isn’t as clear though it appears that senior Tommy Stevens (687 yards, seven touchdowns, four interceptions) will be tabbed the starter over freshman Garrett Shrader (1,022 yards, seven touchdowns, five interceptions). Junior linebacker Erroll Thompson has a team-high 63 tackles for a unit allowing 30.2 points and 389.2 yards per game.
1. Alabama has won the past 11 meetings.
2. Bulldogs junior WR Osirus Mitchell leads the team with 26 receptions, 377 yards and five touchdowns but has just two receptions for 42 yards and one score over the past three games.
3. Crimson Tide junior RB Najee Harris (788 yards) rushed for a career-best 146 against LSU for his fourth 100-yard outing of the season.
PREDICTION: Alabama 44, Mississippi State 17