No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0 SU, 6-3 ATS) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-4 SU, 5-3 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date and Time: Saturday November 16th, 2013. 7:45PM Eastern
Where: Davis Wade Stadium Starkville, M.S.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ala -25.5/MSU +25.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
Top ranked Alabama takes their undefeated campaign on the road this Saturday night when the Crimson Tide roll into Starkville for a meeting with the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are currently 4-5 SU following back to back road losses to a pair of highly ranked teams in South Carolina and Texas A&M. Not only are the Bulldogs desperate to end their recent losing skid but Mississippi St. is going to need at least two wins in their final 3 games to become bowl eligible. Needless to say that will be a tough task to accomplish considering the nature of the remaining schedule starting with Alabama this Saturday night.
The Alabama-Mississippi State series has been referred to as the Battle for Highway 82 relating to the stretch of interstate that connects both campuses that are only 90 miles apart. However whether this series qualifies as a true rivalry, remains up for debate. The Crimson Tide has dominated the series with a 77-17-3 SU mark which results in the most losses any one school has handed Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have not beaten Alabama since the 2007 season and they will be rather large 25.5 point underdogs yet again this weekend.
The Crimson Tide have been nothing short of dominant since the 2nd week of the season including an impressive 2nd half performance last week against LSU. Alabama led 17-14 in a close game at the half before shutting down the Tigers prolific offense in a 38-17 victory. Alabama's defense has been incredible holding opponents to just 10.6 points per game as the best scoring defense in college football. If the defense is not dangerous enough, Alabama's offense seems to be clicking right now as well by averaging 45 points per game over the last 5 outings.
Quarterback A.J McCarron is playing mistake free football (19 touchdowns, 3 picks) and they are starting to get the ball to star receiver Amare Cooper more often each week. Additionally, the physical Alabama run game has found another devastating 1-2 punch with running backs T.J Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. Ironically Alabama appears to be putting together yet another National Championship run by the same old Nick Saban formula that has won the last two championships which is a dominate defense and an overwhelming physical rushing attack.
For Mississippi State to break down that winning formula, the Bulldogs will need to put together a similar formula. Despite what the Bulldogs record may show, they are extremely talented along both the offensive and defensive lines. Dan Mullen's defense has been solid against the run but has struggled to stop the pass. While Alabama does not have a weak passing attack, they definitely prefer to run the ball most often. Therefore the Bulldogs defense needs to come up with some stops and make sure they get off the field in order to give the offense a chance. Offensively QB Dak Prescott is coming along nicely behind center. Prescott started the season sharing the majority of the snaps with Tyler Russell but has nearly taken over. Prescott has tossed 7 touchdowns and 7 picks but has become an extremely important metric to the Mississippi State rushing attack. Prescott leads the team with 722 yards on the ground which is nearly double the amount of yardage running back LaDarius Perkins has tallied. Obviously that dual capability, makes the Bulldogs offense tougher to defend and perhaps we will see just how good the young quarterback is this Saturday against the best defense in college football.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I am a little shy to make a big play on this line. While I believe Alabama covers, I would not be surprised to see Mississippi State keep this one close if they get a solid effort up front. I would consider myself a small lean in favor of the Crimson Tide but believe a better play will be on the 'under' once the total is released. Good Luck!
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