Friday, November 13, 2009

Bama-MSU Preview

This week, the Tide makes the short trek to Starkville, MS, to take on the MSU Bulldogs. Head Coach Dan Mullen has done very well in his first year at the MSU helm. The cupboard was not left completely bare by Sylvester Croom, and Mullen has done a good job installing his spread offense. MSU is still at heart, however, a physical running team. Led by the #8 rusher in the country, Anthony Dixon (avg 125 yards per game), MSU will often try to run up the middle on Alabama's defense. MSU's QB, Tyson Lee, is not known for great arm strength or size. Look for Mullen to have Lee throw quick passes to the wide-outs in order to spread out the Bama defense and open lanes for Dixon. Saban likely knows this. Alabama will respond by staying in its base 3-4 and try to keep fresh DL's and LB's on the field. If MSU get's desperate and starts throwing every play, Saban's Nickel formation will pick him off all day.

Alabama will respond with what Saban believes is necessary to win a MNC--a balanced offense. Bama made a statement early in the LSU game last week by passing more in the first series than in the rest of the season. Ingram will still run up the middle, mix in some Wildcat, and catch jailbreak screens, but look for McElroy to take more shots down field. Alabama will switch to a more ball-control offense if MSU has early success against the Tide defense.

I was originally confident about this matchup, but these types of games always worry me. The emotional win and clinching of the SEC West last week could have the Tide in for a let-down, but if Coach Saban can't keep the team focused, then nobody can.

Score Prediction: Bama 28-10

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