TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is once again dealing with soreness in his right knee, but the sophomore standout says he will be on the field when the top-ranked Crimson Tide host 15th-ranked Mississippi State on Saturday in SEC play. Tagovailoa aggravated the troublesome knee during last Saturday's 29-0 win over LSU, a game in which Alabama totaled 576 yards to top 500 for the ninth straight game.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Alabama -24.5
Tagovailoa finally tossed his first interception of the season against LSU but also threw two touchdowns to raise his count to 27, three shy of the school mark held by AJ McCarron (2012). His stellar campaign is the prime reason why Alabama - which also is atop the College Football Playoff rankings - leads the nation in both scoring offense (51.3 points per game) and total offense (565.6 per game). The Bulldogs (16th CFP) are tied for second in scoring defense (11.3) and stand sixth in total defense (278.7) and are hoping senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald can engineer an upset. "I need to be a leader and keep everybody calm, cool and collected," Fitzgerald told reporters. "Don't let it get into people's heads that we are playing Alabama. We try to play to our standard every week and that is what we are going to do (this) week, as well."
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-3, 2-3 SEC)
Fitzgerald passed for four touchdowns and topped 100 yards rushing for the 19th time in his career as the Bulldogs rolled to a 45-3 victory over Louisiana Tech last Saturday. He has thrown for 1,252 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions while adding 839 yards and nine scores on the ground. Senior defensive end Montez Sweat has recorded 9.5 sacks to raise his career total to 20 (sixth in school history) while senior safety Johnathan Abram has a team-high 68 tackles.
ABOUT ALABAMA (9-0, 6-0)
Tagovailoa is meshing well with sophomore wideout Jerry Jeudy, who caught eight passes for 103 yards against LSU for his fourth 100-yard outing of the season. Jeudy has caught 39 passes for 880 yards - a 22.6 average - and has 10 touchdown receptions, including two TDs in a game on four occasions. The defensive unit allows 14.1 points per game (seventh nationally) and 295.4 yards (11th) and sophomore nose guard Quinnen Williams had 3.5 tackles for loss (including 2.5 sacks) against LSU to increase his season total to a team-high 12.
1. Alabama has won the past 10 meetings, including a 31-24 victory last season.
2. The Bulldogs have scored 16 total points in their three defeats (against Kentucky, Florida and LSU).
3. Crimson Tide sophomore RB Najee Harris (ankle) and sophomore WR Henry Ruggs III (leg) were injured against LSU, but both are expected to be available Saturday.
PREDICTION: Alabama 35, Mississippi State 9
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