The Mississippi State Bulldogs are facing the ultimate wounded animal this week as they face an Alabama Crimson Tide team that has a point to prove after losing to LSU last time out.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Tua Tagovailoa was beaten up against LSU. The Crimson Tide QB – a player just recently returned from surgery to repair a high ankle sprain – was hobbled and less mobile than normal as he attempted to keep the Tide in the game with his arm.
All he managed on the day was 418 yards passing with monster play after monster play leading to four passing touchdowns.
Tua isn’t healthy. He simply cannot be on such a rush back from his injury. Even so, he is still one of the top three quarterbacks in the country on basically one-and-a-half legs. Mississippi State doesn’t have a secondary that can stop Tua and the Tide will roll.
Stop Kylin Hill
The Bulldogs have no passing game to speak of so their best work will come from junior RB Kylin Hill. Hill has rushed for 384 yards over the last two weeks – he went for 234 and three touchdowns against Arkansas last time out – and he is a player that can hurt Alabama if he gets going. The Crimson Tide allowed over 200 yards to the weird and tricky running game of Ole Miss and the defensive players that went missing against LSU last Saturday have to show up and stop Hill in Starkville.
LSU never happened
Sometimes simply playing is the best way to get a rough loss out of the system. The LSU game was that rough loss, but Bama can still backdoor their way into the CFP if they win out, basically because enough teams around them will find a way to lose. There is no need to overanalyze the LSU loss as pertains to this game because the Bulldogs are not the Tigers. Look for Saban to make a statement here.