Alabama Football: Another ‘Mississippi’ reality check coming in Starkville

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

There have been exceptions, but overall when Alabama Football plays the University of Mississippi or Mississippi State, the games have been reality checks for the Rebels and the Bulldogs.

One of the historical realities for both state of Mississippi programs is that the Alabama Crimson Tide has had great success at their home stadiums. That is especially true for the Bulldogs, with Alabama Football winning 81.7% of its away games against Mississippi State.

Ole Miss got its most recent reality check last Saturday in Bryant-Denny. Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss players appeared sincerely confident they could get a road win against the Crimson Tide.

Last season when Alabama went to Oxford in November, the Rebels were ranked No. 11 and had one of college football’s five most productive offenses. It wasn’t enough against a Crimson Tide able to rely on Bryce Young’s magic. The loss to Bama started a string of four losses to end the 2022 Ole Miss season. Kiffin learned something in the second of the four losses when Ole Miss produced 703 yards of offense – and lost to Arkansas by more than two touchdowns. In the offseason, Kiffin rebuilt and strengthened the Ole Miss defense with more than a dozen Transfer Portal defenders. Though in smaller numbers, the Portal King also added offensive firepower through transfers.

Heading into last Saturday’s game, those playing for, coaching for, or pulling for the Powder Blue were clueless the Crimson Tide defense could hold the Rebels to 10 points.

In his post-game comments, Kiffin appeared to be reeling from the game’s outcome.

"I just think you can only – these guys got great players and you can only keep them down so long. That’s why you can’t – you’ve got to steal scores when you have a chance. You’ve got to get the three at the end of the first half. Then we come out in the third quarter and we take our shot over their head and they pick it. They took their shot, almost the same play for a huge play. You get yourself all of a sudden in trouble. That’s why they’re hard to beat, especially here."

Yes, Lane, the reality is Alabama can be kept down only “so long.”

Alabama Football Heavily Favored

Jumping forward to Saturday night in Starkville, the Bulldogs might not get the benefit of a reality check against the Crimson Tide. Alabama is favored by two touchdowns-plus and the final margin could be much more. There is no reason Mississippi State should match the Ole Miss pre-game delusion.

The good news for State, as assessed by Maroon and White Nation, is while losing to South Carolina, a previously ineffective Bulldogs’ offense came alive. It appears the transition from Mike Leach’s offense to Kevin Barbay’s offense might succeed.

State’s main problem is pass defense. Four games into the season, among SEC teams, only South Carolina has been worse. In the Mississippi State loss to LSU, the Bengal Tigers completed 83.8% of their passes. South Carolina topped LSU, completing 90%.

Jalen Milroe may not be a Jayden Daniels or Spencer Rattler. But Milroe is likely to light up Starkville with a Crimson Tide aerial attack. A bigger problem for Mississippi State is the Crimson Tide defense. Nick Saban and his defensive staff have built a unit that has a real chance of maturing into elite status.

Note: Alabama vs. Mississippi State game history provided by

Jalen Milroe stats are quietly good. dark. Next

Alabama and Mississippi State have played every season going back to 1948, with the series having begun in 1896. The Tide and the Bulldogs will not play in 2024. Knowledge of that may be all that makes Mississippi State fans happy on Saturday night.