KEYS TO VICTORY
Establish the run
Mississippi State is coming off a 460-yard rushing performance against Arkansas in which Kylin Hill had a career-high 234 yards and three touchdowns and Nick Gibson also ran for a personal-best 129 yards and a score. It’s imperative that the Bulldogs be able to run the ball in order for Joe Moorhead’s offense to be effective.
Get pressure on Tua
MSU sacked Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa four times last season and eventually knocked him out of the game, holding the Heisman Trophy finalist to just 140 total yards, one touchdown and one interception. Tagovailoa is working his way back from ankle surgery and doesn’t have the mobility he normally does.
The Bulldogs will need to play a clean game today in hopes of overcoming the talent disparity that exists between the two teams.
State’s margin of error in a game like this is slim and it cannot afford to make the same sort of mistakes it did in a game like this against LSU last month.
WHAT TO WATCH
When MSU has the ball
Could today be the day both Tommy Stevens and Garrett Shrader are on the field at the same time? Moorhead has teased having plays involving multiple quarterbacks but has yet to play that card this season. The Bulldogs average 407.8 yards and 28.7 points per game.
According to coach Nick Saban, Alabama missed 25 tackles in its loss to LSU last week. The Tigers also racked up 559 yards that day on a Crimson Tide defense that starts four true freshmen.
When Alabama has the ball
Tagolvailoa has completed 70.9 percent of his passes this season for 2,584 yards, 31 touchdowns and only three interceptions. The Tide have the highest scoring offense in the conference averaging 47.8 points and rank second in total offense at 510.4 yards per game.
Alabama only accumulated 305 yards of offense against Mississippi State last season. The Bulldogs will likely be without defensive starters Lee Autry, Willie Gay Jr. and Marcus Murphy due to suspensions.
MSU’s offense vs. the end zone
The Bulldogs were shutout by Alabama last year in Tuscaloosa and have averaged only 8.5 points per game during their current 11-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide.
Things have been looking up for State’s offense the last two games, however, producing 1,073 yards and 84 points. The Bulldogs are going to need plenty of points this week to keep pace with Alabama’s explosive offense.