Alabama kept rolling along with a 48-17 win and cover at Tennessee last weekend. Unfortunately, the victory came with a cost as the Crimson Tide’s star junior receiver, Jaylen Waddle, was lost for the season with a fractured ankle on the opening kickoff. Quarterback Mac Jones did not throw for a touchdown, but continued his Heisman Trophy campaign by going 25-of-31 for 387 yards. Running back Najee Harris picked up the scoring slack with three touchdowns.
After four straight weeks of beating former assistants and protégés, Nick Saban and No. 2 Alabama on Saturday face Mike Leach and Mississippi State, who are coming into Tuscaloosa off a bye week.
Mississippi State surely needed that bye as the bloom has fallen from the rose quickly after the Bulldogs beat defending National Champion LSU on the road in the season opener. The Bulldogs put up 44 points in Baton Rouge, but have failed to top 14 points in any of the three following games. The rest of the SEC has been able to figure out what LSU could not, which is how to slow down the “Air Raid” offense.
Alabama is allowing an uncharacteristic 280 yards per game through the air, but one would expect Saban to have a solid game plan to defend this offense. Quarterback K.J. Costello has been intercepted eight times to just one touchdown over the past three games and was pulled in favor of freshman Will Rogers in each of the previous two games. Running back Kylin Hill was an all-SEC back last year, but did not dress against Texas A&M and has not even practiced with the team since the game at Kentucky.
Ironically, the one shining light for Leach’s club has been the defense, which has been the SEC’s best at only allowing 295 yards per game. Obviously, facing the Alabama offense is a different challenge.
This could be a “just get through it” type of game for Alabama, as it has a bye week on deck and then gets the rematch with LSU. The Tigers kept the Tide from getting into the College Football Playoff last season, so they may have an eye on that one.
The play: Mississippi State, +30.5.
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