• The matchup: No. 13 MSU (7-0, 3-0 SEC) at No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0)
• The kickoff: 7:30 p.m., ESPN
• The weather: The high Saturday in Tuscaloosa will be about 65 degrees, and it’ll drop down to 44 overnight. So it’ll be nice and cool, little to no chance of rain. Perfect.
• The line: Alabama –24
There are some pretty good reasons why MSU could pull the upset here. More good reasons that it couldn’t, but let’s look at the positives.
Tyler Russell is playing the best football of his career right now and has an array of weapons at his disposal. While it has put up good numbers this fall, Alabama’s pass defense can at times be susceptible to the big play. And this is the best offense the Crimson Tide has faced so far. It’s a balanced offense, so if LaDarius Perkins and friends can get something going, Bama will have to pick its poison.
MSU’s defense has been stingy, especially against the pass. Johnthan Banks, Darius Slay and the other guys back there have been big-time playmakers this season, and perhaps they can be the first to get to Alabama QB A.J. McCarron. Some help from the defensive line and blitzing linebackers would be nice, and one wonders if defensive coordinator Chris Wilson might unleash some things we haven’t seen much of yet.
MSU is plus-17 in turnovers, and turnovers are usually the biggest factor in an upset. Of course, Bama is good at the turnover game, too. And hey, special teams play has, on the whole, been a strong point for the Bulldogs.
The fans certainly believe MSU can win. They’ve started a Twitter trend today with the #WeBelieve hashtag, so there’s an expectation level there that wasn’t present before. And I think the players believe more than they ever have that Bama can be beaten. The Bulldogs want to do big things this year, and beating the Tide opens doors for that.
So will it happen? It’s certainly possible, especially if MSU is clicking in all facets. But for me it comes down to the fact that Alabama has more depth and talent, is at home, and has enough respect for State that it won’t be caught looking ahead to LSU next week.
• The prediction: Alabama 24, MSU 13.