Tide Has Advantage Over State In Stats

There are a million examples in sports when statistics did not pan out. The very best major league team will lose over 50 games. The Jets win the Super Bowl. The Celtics lose to the Harlem Globetrotters. Well, maybe not that. Nevertheless, statistics can give some clue as to what to expect in a college football game, albeit not necessarily the final result.

Alabama is 9-0, including having clinched the Southeastern Conference Western Division with a 6-0 league mark, and the Crimson Tide is second in BCS standings and third in the recognized national polls. Mississippi State is 4-5 overall, including 1-4 in homes games, and has a 2-3 SEC record.

Those statistics are a good indication of what to expect when Alabama goes to Starkville for a 6 p.m. CST Saturday game against the Bulldogs. ESPN will televise the game.

But Mississippi State's poor home record is misleading. The Bulldogs have played a brutal schedule, losing home games to Florida, LSU, Georgia Tech and Houston.

As might be expected, Alabama has the better of it when looking at statistics through nine games.

The game is decided by a score. In scoring, Alabama is fifth in the league at 30.9 points per game, Mississippi State ninth at 26.9. In scoring defense, the Tide is second, giving up 11.8 per game, and the Bulldogs are ninth, allowing 24.6.

State has a slight edge on Bama in rushing offense. The Bulldogs average 219.2 yards per game on the ground, third in the SEC, while the Tide is fourth, 213.

Alabama has the advantage in rushing defense, first in the league and allowing only 68 yards per game. Mississippi State is nionth, giving up 147.4.

The Tide is seventh in the SEC in passing offense, 201.7 yards per game, with the Bulldogs 10th, 165.4. In passing efficiency, Bama is sixth and State 10th.

Alabama is fifth in passing defense, giving up 174 yards per game, and State is 10th, giving up 204.4. In efficiency, the Tide is second, the Bulldogs ninth.

Bama is fourth in total offense, 414.7 yards per game, State seventh, 384.7.

Alabama is second in total defense, allowing 242 yards per game. The Bulldogs are eighth, giving up 351.9.

Bama is third in the league in turnover margin, plus seven (five fumble recoveries and 12 interceptions against six lost fumbles and four passes intercepted). State is 10th at minus four (seven fumbles recovered and seven passes intercepted against 10 fumbles lost and 13 passes intercepted).

In third down conversions, Alabama is ninth, making first downs or touchdowns 37.4 per cent of the time (49-131). Mississippi State is last in the league, converting 32.2 per cent (39-121).

On third down defense, Alabama is third in the SEC, allowing 30.5 per cent success (39-128). The Bulldogs are seventh, allowing success to opponents 34.7 per cent (42-121).

Alabama is first in sacks with 26 and Mississippi State ninth with 16. Bama is tied for first in fewest times having its quarterback sacked, nine, while the Bulldogs have been sacked 12 times, tied for fourth in the league.

In the Red Zone, the Tide is sixth offensively, scoring 87.2 per cent (34-39 with 16 touchdowns and 18-19 field goals) and State is ninth at 78.8 per cent (26-33 on 16 touchdowns and 10-12 field goals).

Defensively in the Red Zone, Bama is fourth, allowing 75 per cent (12-16 with seven touchdowns and 5-5 field goals), the Dogs sixth at 78.8 per cent (26-33 on 18 touchdowns and 8-10 field goals).

Alabama is penalized slightly less than Mississippi State, 49.2 yards per game for Bama, 55.1 for State.

Alabama also has a slight advantage in time of possession, Bama first in the league at 32:37 and State third at 31:29.

In individual statistics, Bama's Leigh Tiffin continues to lead the league in scoring at 10.4 points per game. Mark Ingram of Alabama is first in the SEC in rushing at 127.6 yards per game, just ahead of State's Anthony Dixon who is second at 125.1 yards per game. Marquis Johnson and Mark Barron of Alabama are among four tied for the conference lead in pass defense with the Tide's Kareem Jackson fifth.

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