No. 24 Mississippi State (5-2, 2-2 SEC) at No. 6 Alabama (6-1, 3-1), Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Line: Alabama by 21, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Alabama leads 86-17-3.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Alabama needs to not only get back on the winning track, but go back to looking like a national championship contender. The penalties and other mistakes have piled up lately and certainly surfaced in a loss to No. 3 Tennessee that ended the Crimson Tide's 40-week stint in the Top 5. The Bulldogs have already lost their first two road games, to LSU and Kentucky. They're trying to remain ranked and at least mathematically alive in the SEC West.
Alabama's secondary was burned downfield at times by Hendon Hooker and Tennessee. Now, the Tide faces another prolific passing game. The Bulldogs have the No. 8 passing offense nationally, averaging 334.6 yards a game. The Tide had mostly been solid in avoiding giving up the deep ball. The challenge is different from the Tennessee game. The Volunteers lead the SEC in yards per completion while Mississippi State is last, leaning heavily on high-percentage shorter passes and lots of them.
Mississippi St: QB Will Rogers has thrived in coach Mike Leach's offense, ranking third nationally with 2,324 passing yards and 23 passing touchdowns. But he was intercepted three times and sacked seven times in last year's meeting.
Alabama: LB Will Anderson Jr. isn't just one of the nation's best defensive players and pass rushers, he's also a key leader on the team. Anderson's leadership and energy could be pivotal in rebounding from defensive struggles against Tennessee that left the group embarrassed.
FACTS & FIGURES
Alabama has won the last 14 meetings, but had a 15-game win streak in the rivalry with Tennessee last weekend. ... The Tide has faced Mississippi State more than any other opponent since the teams first met in 1896. ... Rogers has tied Dak Prescott’s (2012-15) MSU career record with 70 passing touchdowns. He needs 337 yards to match Prescott’s career passing yards record (9,376). ... Mississippi State CB Emmanuel Forbes has four interceptions in his last three games, and has returned two of them for touchdowns. He just tied the SEC career record with his fifth pick-6 at Kentucky. ... The Bulldogs are outscoring opponents 66-7 in the first quarter while Alabama has a 90-27 edge.
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