‘There should be plenty of really good college football this Saturday, but there might only be one game that’s truly great: No. 1 Mississippi State (9-0, 5-0) at No. 5 Alabama (8-1, 5-1).
Alabama, as we all know, has ruled college football for the last half decade, winning three national titles in five years. Mississippi State, meanwhile, has gone from preseason afterthought to the top team in America.
“It’s a great opportunity to put an exclamation mark on everything we’re doing right now,” former Bulldog and NFL All-Pro cornerback Fred Smoot said on The MoJo Show. “I think you have to understand, we’re built offensively to give Alabama problems. If you remember, the people that give them problems – the Johnny Manziels of the world, the quarterbacks who can get outside of the pocket and make an extra play or two – they have problems with them. (They have problems with) a team that’s able to go as fast east and west as they are north and south. We are built like that.”
Indeed, they are. In fact, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott has emerged as the Heisman Trophy favorite. He has completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 2,231 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he’s rushed 143 times for 779 yards – 5.4 yards per carry – and 11 touchdowns.
Josh Robinson has also been a beast out of the backfield. The 5-9 junior tailback has rushed 146 times for 984 yards – 6.7 yards per carry – and 11 touchdowns.
Needless to say, the Tide will have to be on their toes on both sides of the ball this Saturday.
“We have a great defensive front,” Smoot said. “If you want to beat Alabama, you have to beat Alabama by doing what Alabama does – and that’s play tough ball in the trenches. (Mississippi State gets) it done on that side of the ball. So when I say I think we have a chance, I think we come out of there with a victory. I think we have the guys and the coach to do it.”
Then again, so does Alabama, which has won four straight games since losing at Ole Miss on Oct. 4. Still, it’s hardly been a cakewalk for the Tide, who won by a point at Arkansas and needed overtime to survive LSU.
Alabama’s best offensive player, without question, is wide receiver Amari Cooper, who has 79 catches for 1,215 yards and 10 touchdowns. Smoot, however, isn’t overly concerned about the 6-1 junior.
“I think you can put two guys on him and take him out the ball game (and) force Alabama to beat you other ways.” Smoot said.
Smoot also isn’t concerned that Mississippi State has allowed an average of 300.6 passing yards per game – which ranks 123rd in the country. Why? Because the Bulldogs are among the nation’s best on third down and in the red zone.
“This matters to me,” Smoot said. “I believe football is situational. Make them kick field goals. If we get the lead, we can keep the lead.”
Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET.