Will Anderson Jr.

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Nick Saban has built a dynasty at No. 5 Alabama (5-1) built on recruiting some of the top talent in the nation and developing NFL stars.

While Mississippi State (3-2) hasn't historically recruited four- or five-star players, it has found ways to develop lower ranked players and compete as it did in its win two weeks ago against Texas A&M.

Can MSU compete with another title contending Alabama team? In this weekend's matchup, here's how the teams stack up:


Will Rogers is just above Bryce Young on the SEC's passing yards leaderboard this season. Rogers likely played the best game of his career against Texas A&M and has a more experience in the battle of true sophomores.

But Rogers has been spotty at times this season prior to that A&M upset. Young is a favorite (+200) to win the Heisman.

Edge: Alabama

Running backs

Brian Robinson is far behind his quarterback in the Heisman betting odds (+8000) but he is a redshirt senior who has stepped in as well as a coach could hope after losing a first-round talent such as Najee Harris. 

Robinson is third in the SEC with 526 rushing yards and has run for 318 in Alabama's last two games.

Edge: Alabama

Receivers/Tight ends

MSU's Makai Polk ranks fourth in the SEC in receiving yards per game. With Polk at the top and guys such as walk-on Christian Ford providing a ninth player in the rotation, few teams have depth like MSU does at receiver.

Alabama might not have that depth, but its top two guys make up for it. John Metchie III has first-round pick potential, and Jameson Williams has more receiving yards than him. 

Edge: Even

Offensive line

Evan Neal, like many lineman before him at Alabama, is likely to be a top-five pick in the draft. However, the crew around him hasn't given Alabama the usual offensive line production.

Alabama allows more sacks per game (2.29) than Mississippi State (2) despite throwing 22 fewer passes per game than MSU. 

Edge: Mississippi State

Defensive line

MSU was able to get better pressure against Texas A&M. The Bulldogs have just one fewer sack than the Crimson Tide despite playing one fewer game.

It's hard to imagine an Alabama team that can be matched in the trenches on both sides of the ball by Mississippi State, but Bama hasn't been its usual self in this area.

Edge: Even


Since Nathaniel Watson has returned for MSU following the rise of Jett Johnson alongside Aaron Brule and Tyrus Wheat, MSU has found some good depth at linebacker.

But Alabama has experience and has a player in Will Anderson who Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin regarded as a potential first overall pick. 

Edge: Alabama


Mississippi State actually has the first-round talent at corner in Martin Emerson, though Alabama's Josh Jobe could certainly make a case. With Emmanuel Forbes on the other side, MSU likely has the top corner tandem in the SEC besides a healthy LSU team.

However, MSU still has questions at safeties. Though things were cleaned up against A&M, MSU has issues allowing explosive plays. Against a quarterback like Young, MSU will have a tough test ahead.

Edge: Alabama

Special teams

Remember Alabama's kicking problems that set up the Kick Six eight years ago? Saban has sured up that position since then. 

Will Reichard is 9-of-10 this season with a long of 51 yards. With Brandon Ruiz's status still a question combined with numerous mistakes on punts, MSU's special teams are still a concern after the bye week.

Edge: Alabama

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