Statistical Comparison

As Alabama and Mississippi State prepare to play the 10th game of the season for both teams, statistics become a bit more meaningful. By now both teams have played against some heavyweights and both have finished with the non-conference cupcakes. (Well, Mississippi State didn't play all creampuffs with West Virginia on the Bulldogs' schedule.)

It should come as no surprise that even with its relatively modest success this eason, Alabama shows up better in just about every statistical category.

Alabama hosts Mississippi State at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game will be telecast on the Southeastern Conference Lincoln Financial network. Bama is 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the SEC and the Bulldogs of Coach Sylvester Croom are 2-7 overall, 0-5 in league competition.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first.

In punt return average, Mississippi State has 20 returns for 271 yards and one touchdown and averages 13.6 yards per runback, which is fourth in the SEC and 19th in the nation. Alabama is seventh in the conference and 65th nationally with 23 returns for 186 yards (one touchdown) and an average of 8.1 yards per return.

State is tied for fifth in the SEC in sacks with 19 for 127 yards in losses. Bama is dead last in the conference with seven sacks for 52 yards in losses.

The Bulldogs lead the league in opponents being penalized. Mississippi State opponents have been flagged 58 times for 519 yards, an average of 57.7 yards per game. The Crimson Tide isn't too far behind, ranking third, with opponents penalized 62 times for 489 yards, 54.3 yards per game.

And in extra point kicking, Mississippi State is one of five teams tied for first at perfect with 20 of 20; Bama is last at 22 of 24.

In the other 26 team statistical categores maintained by the SEC, Alabama ranks ahead of Mississippi State.

In scoring offense, Alabama is eighth in the SEC and 56th in the nation at 24.7 points per game and Mississippi State is 11th in the league and 98th nationally at 18.4. In scoring defense, Bama is fifth in the confererence and 20th nationally allowing 15.8 points per game, the Bulldogs 11th in the SEC and 92nd in the nation, giving up 27.2 points per game.

Alabama is seventh in the conference and 64th in the nation in rushing offense, 133.4 yards per game. Mississippi State rushes 78.3 yards per game, which is last in the league and 110th in the nation. Bama is fourth in the SEC and 26th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 105.2 yards per game, while the Bulldogs allow 122 yards per game, which is sixth in the league and 46th in the nation.

The teams are close in passing offense, Alabama sixth in the SEC and 50th in the nation at 207.7 yards per game, State seventh in the league and 59th nationally at 199.3 yards per game. In pass defense Bama is eighth in the SEC and 36th in the nation, allowing 172.3 yards per game, the Bulldogs 11th in the conference and 89th in the nation, allowing 223.8. In pass efficiency Bama is seventh in the league and 43rd in the nation, State 11th in the conference and 102 nationally. In pass efficiency defense, the Tide is fifth in the SEC and 27th in the nation, State last in the conference and 105th in the nation.

Alabama has total offense of 341.1 yards per game, seventh in the league and 59th in the nation, the Bulldogs 277.7 yards per game, 11th in the conference and 105th in the nation. Defensively, Bama allows 277.6 yards per game, fourth in the SEC and 18th in the nation, Mississippi State 345.8 yards per game, 10th in the conference and 74th nationally.

Perhaps surprising, Alabama is better than Mississippi State in the Red Zone (the 20 yards to the goalline). Bama is seventh in the SEC in Red Zone offense, scoring 76.9 per cent of the time (30 of 39 with 15 touchdowns and 15 field goals), and Mississippi State is 10th at 71.4 per cent (15 of 21 with 13 touchdowns and two field goals). Defensively, Bama is eighth, allowing scores 78.3 per cent of the time (18 of 23 with 11 touchdowns and seven field goals), the Bulldogs 11th at 93.9 per cent (31-33 with 24 touchdowns and seven field goals).

Two areas considered important to winning are turnover margin and third down effectiveness. Alabama is leading the SEC and is second in the nation in turnover margin. Alabama has turned in eight fumble recoveries and 14 pass interceptions (22 total takeaways) and suffered four lost fumbles and five interceptions (9 giveaways) for plus 13, or 1.44 per game. Mississippi State is ninth in the league and 80th in the nation with 17 takeaways and 20 turnovers, minus three, or minus 0.33 per game.

On third downs, Alabama is seventh in the league in converting at 41.5 per cent, and fourth in the conference in stopping the opponent on third down at 31.5 per cent. Mississippi State is ninth in the league in both categories, making 34.7 per cent and allowing 38 per cent.

On fourth down tries, Alabama is sixth at 54.5 per cent, Mississippi State 11th at 35.7 per cent. In defending fourth down tries, Bama is xith, allowing 41.7 per cent, Mississippi State last, allowing 77.8 per cent.

In making first downs, Alabama is second in the SEC with 171 (75 rushing, 81 passing, 15 by penalty) and State is 10th with 139 (49 rush, 77 pass, 13 penalty). Bama is second in defense against first downs, having allowed 126 (49 rush, 69 pass, 8 by penalty) and the Bulldogs are ninth, having given up 155 (66 rushing, 78 passing, 11 by penalty).

Although the Bulldogs are better than Bama at getting sacks, State is also quite vulnerable to the sack. Mississippi State is 12th in the league in getting sacked, having given up 26 for 183 yards. Bama protects a little better. The Tide is eighth, having allowed 19 sacks for 149 yards.

Alabama has been penalized 54 times for 382 yards, 42.4 yards per game, which is fourth in the conference. Mississippi State has been penalized 50 times for 477 yards, 53 yards per game, which is 10th in the SEC.

On kickoffs, Alabama is sixth in the league on returns, 20 runbacks for 414 yards, 20.7 yards per return, and Mississippi State is seventh, 29 returns for 595 yards, 20.5 average. In kickoff coverage, the Tide is sixth, averaging 60.7 yards on 47 kickoffs, permitting 750 yards on returns, for a 42.6 net average. Mississippi State is ninth wit 31 kickoffs averaging 60.7 yards and 437 returns yards, a net of 40.8.

Bama is 10th in net punting, 33.5 yards, just ahead of number 11 Mississippi State, 33.3.

The Tide is seventh in field goals, 16 of 23, and State is tied for eighth, four of seven.

Alabama is first in the SEC in time of possession, averaging 32:52 per game. Mississippi State is 11th, 28:00.

In top ten individual statistics:

In rushing, Bama's Kenneth Darby is fifth at 75.8 yards per game and no State player is ranked. In passing, the Tide's John Parker Wilson is fifth in yards per game (201) and seventh in efficiency and no Bulldogs are ranked. In pass receiving, D.J. Hall is second in yards per game at 91.5, State's Tony Burks is fourth at 79.8, and the Tide's Keith Brown is ninth at 73.3. In receptions per game, Brown is third at 5.29 and Hall seventh at 4.75 per game with no State players ranked.

In punt returns, State's Derek Pegues is third at 14.8 and Bama's Javier Arenas fifth at 8.2. In kickoff returns, Pegues is fifth at 24.4 and Arenas sixth at 21.3. Mississippi State punter Blake McAdams is fifth with a 38.7 average and the Tide's P.J. Fitzgerald is sixth at 38.5.

In pass interceptions, the Alabama's Simeon Castille is second with five in nine games and Lionel Mitchell is third with four in eight games. Pegues has four in nine games to rank sixth.

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