Making The Pick goes back to the SEC once again for the matchup between a pair unbeatens in #11 Mississippi State and #1 Alabama.
Among the three undefeated teams remaining in the SEC, Alabama and Mississippi State represent two of them. Alabama has been the decisive #1 all year long, having easily disposed of every team on their schedule thus far. Bama’ has not scored less than 35 points in a game, while not surrendering more than 14 points all season. This week marks the start of the most difficult stretch that Alabama will have in the regular season. After this Saturday with the #11 Bulldogs, the Tide has games with #6 LSU then #20 Texas A&M.
Meanwhile we have Mississippi State whom has basically flown comfortably under the radar all season long. Dan Mullen’s group has gotten off to their best start since 1999, where they won their 1st eight games that season. Last year the Bulldogs had the unfortunate pleasure of playing the Tide off their only loss to LSU. Alabama dominated the game enroute to winning 24-7.
Mississippi State Offense
The Bulldogs have maintained a well balanced offensive scheme all season behind the consistent QB play of Tyler Russell and the emergence of a solid rushing attack with RB LaDarius Perkins. Russell has quietly been one of the most efficient players in the SEC this season. Russell has the 4th best QB rating (148.6) in the SEC while throwing for 15 TDs against just one interception. Meanwhile Perkins has emerged has a force in the running game, rushing for a TD in every game this season and averaging over 100 yards rushing per game. The offensive line has also played extremely well only allowing six sacks so far this year. This is as balanced and disciplined of an offense that there is in College Football this year.
Bulldog WR Chad Bumphis lays out Arkansas defender…
Mississippi State Defense
The key stat for this Mississippi State team this season has been their turnover margin in which they rank #1 in the nation. The Bulldogs have only turned the ball over 4 times all year while accumulating 21 takeaways. This is an opportunistic defense that is lead by its All-American CB Johnathon Banks. Banks is tall, rangy, and has been a huge playmaker for the Bulldogs all season getting 4 INTs and 9 PBU’s so far this season. Fellow DB Darius Slay has also had a great 1st half of the season getting 4 more INTs for this Bulldog defense. The only potential weakness for Mississippi State defensively could be their kickoff coverage unit which has allowed two returns for TDs this season. Alabama is the #11 ranked team in terms of kickoff return average while also adding a TD.
You’ll soon notice that when we describe Alabama, we will use the word balance quite profusely. Alabama averages 219 yards on the ground and 220 yards through the air offensively. Literally the epitome of balance. QB A.J. McCarron has emerged has the 1st real star that Saban has had at the QB position during his tenure. Having always delegated the Tide QB’s has game managers, McCarron is a legit Heisman contender this season. McCarron is #1 in the country in pass efficiency and has thrown 16 toucdowns with zero INTs this year. His progression has definitely been helped by the emergence of Freshmen WR Amari Cooper. After only having 3 catches for 27 yards through the 1st two games, Cooper has accumulated 25 catches for 398 yards and 5 TDs through the last five games. Then we have the bulldozing running game that is lead by what is easily the best Offensive Line in the country. RB’s Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon have combined for 1,135 yards and 13 TDs. The one weakness for this Alabama offense is pass protection. They have allowed 19 sacks this season.
We can all practically recite the fact that Alabama’s defense was going to lose six players going into this year that were all drafted by NFL teams. This fact made it hard to believe that Alabama could reload to the extent they have this year. However, this is by far and away the best defense in the country this season. The Tide rank #1 in rush defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense, scoring defense, and 1st down defense. Keep an eye on All-American CB Dee Milliner (2 INTs & 15 PBU’s) who will be covering talented MSU WR Chad Bumphis (479 yards & 6 TDs) tonight.
Highlights of Dee Milliner vs. Michigan…
Winner - Alabama
Making The Pick is on a little bit of a losing streak these last few weeks, and who better to get us back on track than the Tide. Mississippi State will definitely be the toughest test that Bama has faced thus far, but the Bulldogs will be far overmatched tonight. Look for Bama to use their advantage up front offensively to run the ball effectively thus opening up their play action passing game. The Tide will win this game by 17-20 points.