Alabama, 5-3 overall and 2-3 in SEC games, hosts Mississippi State, 3-5 overall and 2-3 in league contests, at 5:30 p.m. CST Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Conference statistics after eight games show that Alabama will have a formidable defense against a weak Mississippi State offense and that Bama's rushing offense goes against a weak Bulldogs' defense against the rush.
Alabama has averaged 28.2 points per game, which is fourth best in the SEC and 37th in the nation, while Mississippi State has averaged allowing 25.9 points per game, which is 10th in the league and 66th nationally.
State averages 16.9 points per game, which is 11th in the SEC and 109th in the nation, while Bama's defense holds opponents to 13.5 points per game, which is second in the conference and ninth nationally.
The Crimson Tide leads the SEC and is 15th in the nation in rushing offense with 226.0 yards per game, while the Bulldogs allow 173.0 yards rushing per game, 10th in the conference and 81st in the nation.
State is sixth in the SEC and 38th in the nation in rushing at 174.8 yards per game, while Alabama is third in the SEC and 29th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 115.1 yards per game.
There is little reason to expect passing fireworks Saturday. The only reason Mississippi State is not the most woeful passing team in the SEC is because Alabama is more woeful. The Bulldogs are 11th in the SEC and 109th in the nation, averaging 139.1 yards per game, while Bama is 12th in the conference and 113th in the nation among the 117 teams, averaging 124.6 yards per game. And Alabama's figures are inflated by the yardage put up by Brodie Croyle before he was lost to injury in the third game of the season.
As bad as Alabama is passing, the Tide is that good or better defending against the pass. Bama is first in the league and the nation, allowing just 106.6 yards per game. The Bulldogs are seventh in the SEC and 20th nationally, allowing 180.9 yards per game.
Alabama averages 350.6 yards per game in total offense, ninth in the SEC and 75th in the country. Mississippi State is seventh in the SEC and 52nd in the nation in total defense, allowing 353.9 yards per game.
Bama allows only 221.8 yards per game in total offense, which is best in the nation total defense, and Mississippi State is 11th in the league and 98th in the nation in total offense, picking up only 313.9 yards per game.
Turnover margin is considered a critical statistic, and Alabama ranks first in the SEC and 17th in the nation with plus seven. Bama has turned in 10 fumble recoveries and nine interceptions for 19 takeaways while the Tide has 12 turnovers, five fumbles lost and seven interceptions. Mississippi State is 11th in the league and 89th in the country at minus five. The Bulldogs have 14 takeaways, eight fumble recoveries and six interceptions, but have suffered 19 turnovers, seven lost fumbles and 12 passes intercepted.
Mississippi State has done well on third down conversions, succeeding on 46 of 112 opportunities, 41.1 per cent, third in the league. Bama's defense is best in the SEC in preventing third down conversions, allowing only 23 in 101 opportunities, 22.8 per cent. Alabama does not do well on third downs, 41 of 108 conversions, 38 per cent, which is 10th in the SEC. State is seventh in the league in third down defensive success, allowing 40 conversions in 106 opportunities, 37.7 per cent.
Alabama is ninth in the league in making first downs with 139 (80 rushing, 51 passing, eight by penalty) and Mississippi State is 11th with 131 (72 rushing, 53 passing, six by penalty). The Tide is first in the league in preventing first downs, giving up 99 (45 rush, 42 pass, 12 penalty), while State has given up 150 (81 rush, 59 pass, 10 penalty), which is seventh in the SEC.
Alabama ranks first in the nation in kickoff returns, an average of 32.6 yards per return, while Mississippi State is 10th in the conference and 106th in the nation, 17.5 yards per runback. The Bulldogs are much better on punt returns, second in the league and 30th nationally, at 12.3 yards per return, while Alabama is ninth in the SEC and 100th in the nation, 6.3 yards.
Bama is ninth in kickoff coverage, allowing 20.3 yards per return, while Mississippi State is 10th, giving up 22.1 yards per runback. The Crimson Tide is third in the league and 14th in the nation in net punting, 39.6 yards, while Mississippi State is ninth in the SEC and 55th nationally, 36.2 yards.
In placekicking, Alabama is second in the SEC in field goals (10-13) and Mississippi State is tied for third, (5-7). Both teams are prefect on extra point kicks, Bama 28-28, the Bulldogs 16-16.
Alabama is best in the SEC in time of possession, averaging 33:59. Mississippi State is ninth, 29:07.
Alabama is first in the SEC in Red Zone Offense, scoring 28-31 times when the Tide gets the ball inside the opponents' 20-yard line (90.3 per cent). Bama has 19 touchdowns (13 rush, six pass) and 9-10 field goals, lost one fumble and allowed time to expire once. Mississippi State is 11th in the Red Zone, 16-23, which is 69.6 per cent. The Dogs have 13 touchdowns (seven rush, six pass) and 3-5 field goals, lost two fumbles, suffered two interceptions, and allowed time to expire once.
The Tide is tied for second in Red Zone defense, allowing 12 scores in 18 opportunities (66.7 per cent). Bama has given up nine touchdowns (6 rush, 3 pass), 3-6 field goals, turned in three fumble recoveries, one interception, and time expired one time. Mississippi State is 11th in the SEC in Red Zone defense, opponents scoring 22 times on 26 opportunities, 84.6 per cent, with 17 touchdowns (10 rush, 7 pass) and 5-5 field goals, turned in two interceptions, one fumble recovery, and one time expiration.
Mississippi State is penalized 45.0 yards per game, fourth in the SEC, while Bama is penalized 56.1 yards per game, eighth in the conference.
Alabama has been sacked only nine times for 73 yards, first in the SEC, while Mississippi State has been sacked 13 times for 93 yards, sixth in the league. Bama has turned in 15 sacks for 100 yards, tied for fifth in the conference, while State has turned in 12 sacks for 68 yards, ninth in the SEC.