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Alabama vs. Mississippi State Football Prediction and Preview

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Football Prediction and Preview

Crimson Tide look to bounce back from last week's loss when they take on the Bulldogs in Starkville

Uh-oh. Now what do we do?

Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC) actually lost a football game. Yes, 41-38 to Texas A&M. That means so many things have come to an end. Their 19-game win streak was the longest in FBS. The 100-game win streak against unranked opponents. The 48-game win streak versus unranked opponents when Nick Saban had his team at No. 1. Oh, and that ornery 24-game win streak that Saban had against his old assistants is now toast as well.

I'm sure you already heard all about these streak-busting stats ad nauseam. But did you know this? The next team that Bama will face is the same team that just beat Texas A&M the week before.

Well, I guess you did know the Tide was going to be facing the Bulldogs (3-2, 1-1). You obviously saw the headline and clicked on the link to read about it. So let's get to it.

No. 5 Alabama at Mississippi State

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Spread: Alabama -17

When Alabama Has the Ball

One thing about Bama last week; you can't put much blame on the offense. Bryce Young and Co. posted 38 points, 369 passing yards, and 153 rushing yards. But the big key was that after a perfect first drive for a touchdown, they fumbled and threw an interception on the next two drives. That put them behind the eight-ball and dug themselves a 17-7 deficit. Take care of the ball, first and foremost. Hell, they out-yarded A&M 522-to-379, and still managed to lose. Mississippi State has a capable offense, so getting behind early on the road again could be dangerous.

But the Tide might not have a problem if that running game keeps chugging along. Keep an eye on "B-Rob" this week. The last two games Brian Robinson Jr. has run for 171 yards vs. Ole Miss and 147 vs. A&M. He only had 37 carries in Bama's first three games but has 60 in the last two, gaining some confidence and establishing himself as one of the top backs in the SEC. Keep feeding the beast boys.

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One thing that A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko was able to do very effectively was rattle Bryce Young from snap No. 1 to snap No. 80. And that gives the Bulldogs a little bit of a blueprint on how to beat this Crimson Tide team. Harass and harangue that dude as much as you can. The Tide QB was sacked four times and hurried five more, even though it seemed like every time he dropped back.

When Mississippi State Has the Ball

The biggest worry for the Bulldogs is whether or not quarterback Will Rogers' arm is going to fall off before the end of the season. In the last three games, Rogers has completed 50, 47, and 46 passes, all within the top five in the history of SEC play. He has also hit on 76 percent of his throws in those games, which is wicked-impressive. Guess last week's bye week came at the right time for his tired arm. Last year, the Tide held Rogers to 147 yards on 24 completions. So look for the Tide D to keep everything in front of them again, willingly giving up the short dink and dunk throws and not giving up the long bomb.

In last year's 41-0 skunking to Alabama, nothing really worked on offense for the Maroons. They were held to 200 yards of total offense, went 2-for-15 on third-down conversions, and punted 10 times. A little bit of ball control will go a long way in helping to keep this one close. Dare I say, "Run the ball?" Ha, no. But some screens and fly-sweep style passes need to be effective to give the Dogs any hope of an upset like A&M pulled.

The Tide defense looked sloppy at times against A&M, missing tackles and over-pursuing all game long. Keep an eye on their fundamentals and discipline when it comes to tackling this week. They need a bounce-back game defensively to rebuild the confidence.

Final Analysis

Well, guess what people, I double-checked and, yes, the sun actually did come back up on Sunday morning after Alabama had lost a regular-season football game. So it's going to be OK. In fact, they still own their own destiny. If they get back to their winning ways, they could still make the SEC title game. And to be honest, even a loss there to Georgia doesn't mean they won't make the College Football Playoff. That has to do with the cache they carry.

MSU will provide some problems, sure. Especially since we've seen the two biggest struggles for the Tide come in conference games on the road. I guess the only question left is, when was the last time Nick Saban lost two games in a row? Meh, no need to look it up. The Red Elephants are probably going to roll here. (Note I said "probably," not definitely. It's called wiggle room.)

Prediction: Alabama 45, Mississippi State 21

Podcast: Week 7 Preview & Predictions + Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.