Alabama at Mississippi State
One of the popular sound bites as Mississippi State prepares to face now No. 5 Alabama has been the woe and peril ahead for any team – in this case the Bulldogs – that has to face the Crimson Tide coming off a loss.
Spoiler Alert: We’re only in the second graph here, but I’ll go ahead and tell you I’m not picking the Bulldogs to end a 13-year losing streak in the series.
I’m also not picking them to be destroyed.
This is not last year’s Alabama team.
The biggest differences are at quarterback and receiver. Those were the most visible positions last year in the Tide’s dominant national championship run.
I could see some of the drop-off in Tuscaloosa a couple of weeks ago when Alabama took control early and cruised to a 42-21 win over Ole Miss.
You had to pay close attention to see the difference because the Tide was mostly handing the ball to running back Brian Robinson Jr. against the Rebels.
The difference was clearer last week when Texas A&M ended Alabama’s 19-game win streak with a 41-38 win in College Station.
A&M coach Jimbo Fisher, one game after Lane Kiffin did not, became the first ex-Nick Saban assistant to beat the master.
Saban is now 1-24 against head coaches he once employed.
That has no bearing on this game because Mike Leach has never been on a Nick Saban staff. But what if he had? Can you imagine those two personalities together? It’s an entertaining thought.
Credit A&M, after being dominated much of the second half, for manning up and making big plays at the back end of the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Zach Calzada, fairly average after being rushed from backup to starter, played much better.
Alabama played from behind most of the game but rallied from two touchdowns back to take a fourth-quarter lead.
From that point what plagued the Tide was inconsistency among its receivers. I didn’t keep a running count, but I probably saw four or five dropped passes.
The fourth quarter at A&M was more about the receivers than quarterback Bryce Young.
Ole Miss rarely sought to pressure Young but when it did get him off his spot it sometimes affected him.
This week Will Rogers will protect the football. He might not finish every drive with a touchdown, but he won’t have the turnovers that lead to blowout losses against very talented teams.
Defensively, the Bulldogs took strides in limiting big plays against the Aggies.
While Alabama receivers dropped passes at inopportune times against A&M, collectively this passing game is better than A&M’s.
Young and John Metchie will hit a big play at some point.
Alabama won’t run on MSU like it did Ole Miss.
Leach says games like this are not about using emotion to play above yourself; that’s not possible, he says.
Springing an upset is about being as close to perfect you possibly can on every play.
That’s a lot to ask.
Prediction: Alabama 39, MSU 29
The Beat Guys: Katz, Alabama; Krajisnik, Alabama.
Ole Miss at Tennessee
Ole Miss played with effort, energy and had a solid defensive performance on opening night against Louisville.
Then the schedule eased up for a couple of weeks.
Now SEC play has arrived, and unfortunately, the Rebels look a lot different on defense.
Missing a potential impact transfer like safety Jake Springer isn’t helping matters.
››OLE MISS DEFENSE: 3-2-6 scheme remains a work in progress
Lane Kiffin says he’s sticking with the new defensive plan, the 3-2-6, but clearly the defensive coaches are looking for fixes on the fly.
That’s not a good place to be facing a Tennessee offense that looks to have figured out things under first-year coach Josh Heupel.
Heupel had explosive rushing offenses at UCF. Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby was a part of those offenses for two years, the second as coordinator.
That might be of assistance in helping the Rebels know what’s coming, but that doesn’t bring a lot of confidence after Arkansas plowed through the Rebels for 350 rushing yards last week.
The Vols gave up 41 points in Week 2 to Pitt, 38 in Week 4 to Florida and lost both games.
They put up 56 in an in-state battle with Tennessee Tech.
It’s the last two weeks that have really caught peoples’ attention, a 62-24 win at Missouri and a 45-20 win at home against South Carolina.
Florida held the Vols to 14 points, but do you think the Ole Miss defense is closer to the Gators or to Mizzou and the Gamecocks?
Ole Miss looks to be the best team Tennessee will have faced to this point in the season.
While Lebby knows Heupel there’s a flip side. Heupel will know him too.
It was good to see Ole Miss on the winning side of one of those strange games in the Arkansas series, but it’s hard to win games 52-51 every week.
That takes a lot out of you.
Back in August a lot Ole Miss folks penciled in a win against rebuilding Tennessee.
I think the Rebels get there though with more of a fight than it looked like a few months ago.
Matt Corral goes into this game completing passes at almost 70 percent with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions.
››ON MATT CORRAL: Braylon Sanders thinks he has 'more in the tank'
He’s now thrown 201-straight passes without a pick, ninth all-time in the SEC.
Prediction: Ole Miss 55, Tennessee 45
The Beat Guys: Katz, Ole Miss; Krajisnik, Ole Miss.
Recipe of the Week
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
I’ve been waiting for cooler temps before rolling out this one out, and it looks like we’ll have that Saturday night.
It took a while for me to get this one to where our family really liked it, but I found the sweet spot with sweetened condensed milk.
The contents: 8 cups chicken broth, 12 ounce can sweetened, condensed milk, ½ cup regular milk, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can sweet peas, 1 thinly sliced carrot, ½ teaspoon thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon Tony Chacherie’s, Creole seasoning, 2 cups diced cooked chicken, 2 cups butterfly pasta, ¼ cup flour, 3 tablespoons butter.
The process: Add sweetened condenses milk, carrot, peas and spices to broth. Cook for 20 minutes over medium heat. Add chicken and noodles and cook for 12 minutes. In a cup, stir together flour and ½ cup milk. Add to pot. Bring to boil for 3 minutes, stir in butter till melted.
You can add more pasta to reach a desired consistency.
I’ve used different kinds of pasta with this. I like butterfly for how it expands to a large piece.
››HOW TO FOLLOW OUR COVERAGE:
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Florida at LSU
Auburn at Arkansas
Oklahoma State at Texas
Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech
Krajisnik: Virginia Tech
BYU at Baylor
Kentucky at Georgia
Vanderbilt at South Carolina
Alford: South Carolina
Katz: South Carolina
Krajisnik: South Carolina