It’s being billed as college football’s regular season game of the year with the winner earning an inside track to the Southeastern Conference Western Division championship.
Top-ranked Mississippi State (9-0, 5-0 SEC) seeks to extend its perfect season against third-ranked Alabama (8-1, 5-1) in an SEC West showdown at 2:39 p.m. CT Saturday from a sold-out Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The contest will be televised live by CBS with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce calling the action. Free live streaming video is also available through CBSSports.com. ESPN’s College GameDay will originate from Tuscaloosa at 8 a.m.
The C Spire Tailgate Show on the MSU Sports Radio Network goes live at 12:30 p.m. Jim Ellis, Matt Wyatt and John Correro will call it on the network (check for affiliates here).
Follow live in-game updates and engage with other fans via MSU football social media: @HailStateFBall (on Twitter), Facebook.com/HailStateFootball (Facebook) and Instagram.com/HailStateFB(Instagram).
The Bulldogs are aiming for the first 10-win regular season in school history. An MSU victory on Saturday would set up next weekend’s home finale against Vanderbilt with a chance to clinch the division title. With a loss to Alabama, the Bulldogs would have to win their remaining two games and need Auburn to defeat Alabama in order for MSU to clinch the division.
MSU has embraced the underdog role all season, coming out with victories four times under that scenario. The squad is seeking to become the first team to win at LSU (Baton Rouge) and at Alabama (Tuscaloosa) in the same season since MSU did it in 1957.
“In every article you read, we are big underdogs heading into this game,” said head coach Dan Mullen. We know that role. We are going to be ok with that. Our guys are going to come in with a chip on their shoulder and play with great effort. No matter what everyone else is predicting, we want to play that way every week.”
“We’re back to the team that we were to begin with to begin the season,” added Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott. “No one expected us to win; no one thought that we would win. We were the underdogs in all of those games.”
The Bulldogs are fully rested and well prepared after a 45-16 non-conference win against UT Martin last weekend. Saturday will be the fourth top-10 team MSU has faced this season. The squad has won 12 consecutive games – one shy of tying the school record – and has not tasted defeat in 364 days.
The Tide, ranked fifth in the College Football Playoff poll, survived in overtime at No. 14 LSU last weekend by a score of 20-13. Alabama has won the last six meetings against the team that resides just 84 miles down Highway 82.
Saturday’s matchup features the league’s top total offense and top total defense. MSU is putting up 522.1 yards per game, good for sixth nationally. Alabama is allowing only 275.2 yards per game, including 89.7 yards per game on the ground.
Prescott is the only FBS player to rank in the top 10 in total offense, points responsible for and passing efficiency. Prescott has thrown for 2,231 yards and rushed for 779 yards. He’s tossed 18 touchdowns and rushed for 11.
Running back Josh Robinson stands just 14 yards away from cracking the 1,000-yard mark for the season, while De’Runnya Wilson, a Birmingham, Ala., native, has caught a team-high 22 balls for 367 yards and six touchdowns. Senior wideout Jameon Lewis has worked his way back to full strength and will play Saturday.
Defensively, All-America candidate Benardrick McKinney paces the Bulldogs with 55 tackles. Defensive end Preston Smith is tops on the team in tackles for loss with 11.5, including seven sacks.