OFFENSE

Advantage: Alabama

This Crimson Tide offense is explosive, with playmakers like Jerry Jeudy, and getting better in the run game as the offensive line play evolves. Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald presents a unique threat at quarterback, but MSU can’t match UA’s firepower.

 

DEFENSE

Advantage: Even

Mississippi State’s defensive front has been solid all season, and Alabama is getting big-time production from Quinnen Williams and others. MSU allows 12.3 points to Alabama’s 14.1 on average, and 279 yards to UA’s 295. The differences are negligible, as both units are outstanding.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Advantage: Mississippi State

Alabama has explosive returners in Josh Jacobs and Jaylen Waddle, but has been shaky at punter and abysmal in placekicking, where even extra points are an adventure. The Bulldogs are average in the punting department but far better at kicking the ball.

 

COACHING

Advantage: Alabama

MSU made a sneaky good hire in Joe Moorhead, who had big-time coordinator experience at Penn State and head coaching success at Fordham. Nick Saban’s legacy is at Alabama writ in crimson flame, with a statue and national title trophies accumulated.

 

INTANGIBLES

Advantage: Mississippi State

The Crimson Tide is coming off an emotional, and physical, road victory at LSU. Alabama may be a bit beat up and could still have a big of a hangover. Mississippi State is good enough to present a challenge and may not have UA’s complete attention.

 

PREDICTION

Alabama 39, Mississippi State 16

Alabama may not be at its sharpest coming off the big victory at LSU, but still has too much firepower to allow the upset. Expect the Crimson Tide to have a few problems with Mississippi State’s quarterback-running offense, but to be in firm control by the end of the third quarter.