Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Date and Time: Saturday, November 11, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS
Opening College Football Odds: Alabama -14
Alabama vs. Mississippi State TV Coverage: ESPN
Mississippi State might seem like a joke right now, but this team isn't out of the equation yet for the College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs only have losses at Georgia and at Auburn to their credit, and if they could figure out how to win this game, they'd suddenly be vaulted into the Top 10 in the nation with a shot of ultimately playing for the SEC title if Georgia beats Auburn this week and Auburn turns around and beats Alabama.
Still, it's easy to be optimistic about Mississippi State until you look at the resume of who is has actually beaten. The Bulldogs have wins over Charleston Southern, Louisiana Tech, LSU, BYU, Kentucky, Texas A&M and UMass. Sure, the LSU win is nice, but the rest of that schedule is a joke. Lose this game, and it's probably off to the Outback Bowl at best for the Dogs in December or January.
Nick Saban was given just the fuel that he needed to give his team when the first College Football Playoff rankings came out. The Tide have opened up the year at No. 2, and that's where they presumably will be when the rankings debut this week as well. Of course, all of this will work itself out when push comes to shove, and Alabama can certainly afford a loss and live to tell about it at this point.
But you can bet Saban will have one eye on what's going on at Jordan-Hare while his team is preparing for this game. If the Tigers are beaten, a win in this game would win the SEC West before ever engaging in the Iron Bowl in a few weeks.
Mississippi State is a one-man band at this point for the Bulldogs. He's one of the top rushing quarterbacks in the history of the SEC at this point, and he's going to have to play at a ridiculously high level to beat Alabama on Saturday.
Here's what you need to know most about Fitzgerald, though:
Games Against Auburn and Georgia: 27-for-62, 240 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs, 23 carries, 103 yards, 0 TDs
Games Against All Other Teams: 106-for-172, 1,219 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs, 93 carries, 698 yards, 12 TDs
To summarize, Fitzgerald is averaging 171.5 total yards per game and has exactly one touchdown against the two really good teams on his schedule and is averaging 273.9 total yards per game and has 23 touchdowns in his other seven games.
Alabama vs. Mississippi State Free Picks
You can see where we're going with this one, right?
The Crimson Tide aren't going to let a man like Fitzgerald get loose and starting throwing the ball and running the ball all over the field against them. Sure, you can point to what Johnny Manziel did a couple times to the Tide in the past, but those are really isolated incidents.
Last year in this game, Fitzgerald went 10-for-33 for 145 yards with a pick and was held to 11 carries for 15 yards.
Jalen Hurts and the Alabama offense aren't exactly rolling at the moment, but this unit doesn't necessarily have to be in order to win a game like this one going away. The Crimson Tide have a big ask on their heads from the top college football sportsbooks by laying 14-points, but we see no reason to believe they can't effectively name the final score of this game.
College Football ATS Pick: Alabama -14 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Alabama 44, Mississippi State 7