One of the biggest remaining hurdles between Alabama and the College Football Playoff awaits Saturday, when the Crimson Tide travels to face Mississippi State in the 100th all-time meeting between the SEC West rivals. The Crimson Tide jumped to No. 2 in the playoff rankings after last week’s impressive 30-16 win over LSU, and they face another stiff test against the 20th-ranked Bulldogs.
Alabama has reeled off six straight wins since a 43-37 setback against Ole Miss, including triumphs over three teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time. Last week’s victory put the Crimson Tide in control in the SEC West – and gave them an inside track to the national semifinals – but they’ll have to knock off another red-hot team to stay there. The Bulldogs have averaged 40.75 points during their four-game winning streak and are coming off a 31-13 victory at Missouri in a driving rain. ”Any time you have an emotional win, you have to get your team ready to respond the right way and make sure they’re focused on what they need to do just as well the next week – or better,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told reporters. “This is an outstanding team all the way around, and this is not the time for anyone to think that just because we had what some would call a ‘big win’ that there is any reason to think that the next game is not the most important game that we need to play.”
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened Alabama anywhere from -7 to -8 and the line is currently -8. The total is up to 51.5 from the opening 50.
Alabama – RB Kenyan Drake (Questionable, head), WR Chris Black (Out for season, ankle), K Gunnar Raborn (Out indefinitely, suspension), WR Robert Foster (Out for season, shoulder).
Mississippi State – DB Will Redmond (Out for season, knee), LB Dezmond Harris (Out for season, knee), DB Kendrick Market (Out for season, knee).
WEATHER: Temperatures expected to be in the low-60s under clear skies. Wind will blow toward the south end zone at around 6 mph.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Alabama remains the team to beat in the SEC after defeating LSU by a score of 30-16. Derrick Henry ran for 210 yards and three TDs while Leornard Fournette was limited to just 31 yards on 19 carries. The Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 303 yards and four TDs in the win over Missouri, becoming the 6th player in SEC history to account for 100 or more TDs.” Covers Expert Jesse Schule.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We opened this game Alabama -8 and have not had to move off our opening number as we are seeing solid two-way action at this number with 65 percent of the action favoring Alabama.” Michael Stewart, CarbonSports.ag.
ABOUT ALABAMA (8-1 SU, 4-5 ATS, 3-6 O/U): The Crimson Tide shut down LSU star Leonard Fournette last week, holding him to a season-low 31 yards, and they hope to slow another potential Heisman Trophy candidate this week in Dak Prescott. Alabama has forced 13 turnovers during its winning streak – including 11 interceptions – and leads the SEC with 13 picks this season, four of which were returned for touchdowns. Derrick Henry also continued his impressive play against LSU, running for 210 yards and three touchdowns to give him 589 rushing yards and seven TDs in his last three games.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS, 4-5 O/U): Prescott continued to put up big numbers despite unfavorable conditions last week, racking up 351 total yards with four touchdown passes against a Missouri team that entered the game ranked first in the SEC in scoring defense. Prescott has topped 300 yards passing in three straight games, and both of his favorite targets went over 100 yards receiving last week – with Fred Ross making 11 catches for 115 yards and De’Runnya Wilson adding four receptions for 102 yards. The Bulldogs could have their hands full slowing down Henry, as they rank 10th in the SEC against the run after allowing 215 rushing yards versus Missouri.
* Under is 7-0 in the last seven meetings in Mississippi State.
* Under is 13-2-1 in the last 16 meetings.
* Crimson Tide are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.
* Under is 8-1 in Bulldogs last nine conference games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-five percent of Covers users are backing Alabama.