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College News -#1 Mississippi St Faces #5 Alabama In Major SEC Matchup

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#1 Mississippi St (9-0) at #5 Alabama Heads Clash For #1 Ranking

Top-ranked Mississippi State (9-0, 5-0 SEC) seeks to extend its perfect season against 5th 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.

Photo - WR Amari Cooper - Alabama

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 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.

Alabama has won three national titles in the past five seasons. They look to claim a place in the Final four in the inaugural playoff system rankings with a win today. The Tide is a favorite to win a matchup that could determine the SEC West leader and possible national champion.

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.

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 20 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites.

Mississippi St Tops Inaugural College Football Playoff Rankings
Oct. 21
Photo – QB Dak Prescott – Mississippi St.

Mississippi State, boasting a 7-0 overall record and three wins over top-10 ranked teams, was tabbed No. 1 in the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings announced Tuesday night on ESPN.

The top-ranked Bulldogs were one of three Southeastern Conference teams in the top four. Florida State is No. 2 followed by No. 3 Auburn and No. 4 Ole Miss. Oregon, Alabama, TCU, Michigan State, Kansas State and Notre Dame round out the top 10.

The College Football Playoff rankings will be announced every Tuesday for the next six weeks. It leads to the unveiling of the semifinal pairings and bowl assignments on Sunday, Dec. 7 at 11:45 a.m. CT live on ESPN. The rankings and pairings are formed by the 12-member College Football Playoff Selection Committee.

The Bulldogs also own the top spot in the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today Coaches polls. MSU is off to a 4-0 start in SEC play for the first time since 1999. Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Dak Prescott, running back Josh Robinson and Butkus Award semifinalist Benardrick McKinney, the Bulldogs are outscoring opponents 296-151 and have not trailed in over 177 minutes of football.

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 20 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites.

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