Alabama Football: Back to work vs. the MSU Bulldogs in Starkville

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Alabama football season is far from over as Mississippi State awaits in Starkville. Bama needs to be focused to win big over a Bulldogs team better than its record.

SEC road games should never be taken for granted. An unfocused Alabama football team can perhaps win in Starkville. But winning, even covering the 20.5 point spread is not enough. Nick Saban NEVER attempts to run up a score. This is one week the Crimson Tide coach should never let up.

A four or five touchdowns (or more) win in Starkville could accomplish much in one of two ways. The Crimson Tide defense holding the Bulldogs to under 10 points would heal some wounds and somewhat repair a damaged perception. Another successful outcome would be a massive explosion of 50 or more points while holding the Bulldogs to 14 points or less.

Either result would maintain the Crimson Tide’s hold on at least the No. 5 spot in the CFB Playoff rankings. Yes, Alabama football fans, when a team no longer controls its Playoff destiny, how it wins and by how much matters.

The Bulldogs will have different plans. To the extent a 4-5 team can be confident going up against the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Bulldogs will hope for a shocking upset. Joe Moorhead has experienced the pain of learning how much better are SEC defenses than those he battled in the Big Ten. His team has talent on offense. Both quarterbacks, Tommy Stevens and Garrett Shrader can run. Stevens is the far better passer and he has more game experience. Both will probably play on Saturday.

The Bulldogs are coming off a bye week. They had extra time to prepare for the Crimson Tide. Moorhead’s major problem defensively is pressuring quarterbacks. Last season’s great MSU defense is no more after the departures of three NFL first-round picks. The Bulldogs are No. 11 in the SEC in Rushing Defense and Redzone Defense; No. 12 in Team Passing Efficiency Defense and No. 13 in Sacks.

Even if Tua is still gimpy and maybe even still slightly rusty, given time he will chew up the Bulldogs defense. Najee Harris could continue the ground onslaught he began against LSU.

Trying to beat the Alabama football defense on the ground might give the Bulldogs some success. Shrader is a strong runner and running back, Kylin Hill can run with power and finesse. Hill is probably the best, little-noticed runner in the SEC.

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What will happen in StarkVegas? The Crimson Tide is going to roll.