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MSU wrap-up: Bama walks the ’Dogs down the beaten path

MSU wrap-up: Bama walks the ’Dogs down the beaten path

It might take a while to process how complete a victory this was for Alabama on Mississippi State, but if there was any clearer indication of just how much stronger the Alabama program is than just about everyone else in the SEC, here it was.

A Mississippi State team that a week before had beaten a young, growing, but still very talented Texas A&M team got outright embarrassed at Bryant-Denny Stadium. What Alabama did to the Bulldogs is considered cruelty to animals in all 50 states.

MSU preview: Suddenly, Bulldogs have everyone’s attention

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MSU preview: Suddenly, Bulldogs have everyone’s attention

Alabama opened as a four-touchdown favorite in this game, and with the kickoff at 11 a.m., Mississippi State is hamstrung even further as the road team. Still, Texas A&M was ranked No. 4 in the country, and the Bulldogs slayed them. Alabama can’t treat this game as part one of a two-part walkover leading up to its game against Auburn.

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Previews 2016: Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Texas A&M

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Previews 2016: Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Texas A&M

The offseason has been a turbulent one for Ole Miss, more so the result of an NCAA investigation into recruiting violations than anything happening on the field. The Rebels have been effective spoilers under Hugh Freeze, but haven’t shown the mental toughness necessary yet to take the final step and win the division. Now, Ole Miss will have to prove it can take that final step while dealing with off-field distractions and replacing starters at over half the positions on the field.

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Rating the 2016 SEC recruiting classes

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Rating the 2016 SEC recruiting classes

The addition of Jamar King at the last moment brought Alabama up to a rating of “Excellent” in the “Needs Filled” category; otherwise, it would have been hard to rank the Crimson Tide No. 1 in the country overall over Florida State. Alabama, over the past few years, has finished with at least one position group’s worth of signees somewhere to be called best-in-class; in 2016, Alabama did it for at least one position group and maybe as many as three. Alabama got the nation’s best linebacker haul, picking up three 10.0-rated prospects on Signing Day: Ben Davis, Lyndell Wilson and Terrell Hall. But Alabama also was in the running for best OL class, headed by Jonah Williams

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MSU wrap-up: Bama defense may be in ‘best-ever’ territory

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MSU wrap-up: Bama defense may be in ‘best-ever’ territory

If you want to start a spirited discussion on any Alabama fan board, trot out the modifier “best-ever” and ask people for opinions.

Alabama’s long, storied football history has produced many “best-evers,” from wide receiver Don Hutson in the 1930s to linebacker Lee Roy Jordan in the the 1960s (and later Derrick Thomas in the 1980s) to Dwight Stephenson to John Hannah to Mark Ingram and on and on and on.

Beyond individuals, Alabama can lay serious claim to having the best-ever college defense at several points in its history.

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MSU Preview: Bulldogs again make Bama’s post-LSU life uncomfortable

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MSU Preview: Bulldogs again make Bama’s post-LSU life uncomfortable

Alabama has made an art form lately out of losing a regular-season game, then finding some way to get back into the national title discussion. But the one thing Alabama has failed to do on several occasions over the past few years is shut down a hot quarterback – particularly one that is mobile and who can improvise on the fly.

Mississippi State’s Prescott is perhaps at the top of the list of quarterbacks who can do such. He has amassed 2,351 yards passing and has thrown 18 touchdowns to only 1 interception. He is the team’s leading rusher, gaining almost twice as many yards as the guy in second place, who happens to start at tailback. He has leadership skills that are simply overflowing. And he led a furious near-comeback against Alabama last year in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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Previews 2015: Mississippi State Bulldogs

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Previews 2015: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State overachieved greatly in 2014, in the process solidifying Dan Mullen’s hold on the head coaching position in Starkville – and, unfortunately, lifting future expectations. As often happens with Mississippi State, success does not appear to be sustainable. The Bulldogs simply haven’t recruited consistently enough to remain in the SEC’s upper echelon, and had its starting quarterback not elected to return to school, State would be staring a losing record in the face. As is, the Bulldogs will do well to get back to the postseason.

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MSU preview: For perhaps the first time ever, Bama is the hunter, not the hunted

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MSU preview: For perhaps the first time ever, Bama is the hunter, not the hunted

Alabama is coming off its annual exposure to trench warfare, otherwise known as the LSU game, and the results were almost too terrible to imagine. Alabama needed a last-minute, game-tying drive and an overtime period to defeat the Bayou Bengals, and the Tide’s reward is a date with a Bulldog team that is more dynamic offensively, has better speed at the quarterback position and who spent last week toying with UT-Martin.

If this game was being played in Starkville, it would be even more of a circus than it figures to be in Tuscaloosa. But with Alabama’s home-field performances being so strong in 2014, the top concern might not be Mississippi State, but the annual post-LSU hangover from which the Crimson Tide always seems to suffer.

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Previews 2014: Mississippi State Bulldogs

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Previews 2014: Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have been mentioned as potential darkhorse contenders seemingly every year since Dan Mullen took over the team five years ago – but this time, the hype might be for real. The Bulldogs have the SEC’s most dynamic young quarterback, a veteran roster and a stout defense. Those factors are usually a good combination for teams looking to break into the upper echelon of an SEC division.

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MSU wrap-up: Mistakes belie a dominating win

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MSU wrap-up: Mistakes belie a dominating win

With several teams still left undefeated in major college football this late in November, the subject of “style points” is sure to come up in any discussion of which team or teams should be ranked atop the standings.

The only style points Alabama put up against Mississippi State on Saturday was in showing how stylishly a team could dismiss the fallout of turnovers.

Alabama’s 20-7 win over the Bulldogs will probably be enough to keep Alabama atop the BCS standings. The effort behind that victory won’t be enough to beat Auburn in two weeks.

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