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MSU wrap-up: Hurts cementing legacy as a clutch QB

MSU wrap-up: Hurts cementing legacy as a clutch QB

Alabama’s Jalen Hurts accounted for nearly 100 total yards on his own in the fourth quarter (and the total would have been more than 100, if college football didn’t take sack yardage down from rushing totals), led two touchdown drives and another drive that ended when Andy Pappanastos’ field goal attempt bounced off the left upright. More or less, Hurts did the same thing to Mississippi State that he did to Clemson in last year’s national championship game, except this time the defense held the opposition out of the end zone in the end.

MSU preview: Bulldogs can be explosive, but can also self-destruct

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MSU preview: Bulldogs can be explosive, but can also self-destruct

Prior to Mississippi State’s 34-23 win over UMass last week, the Bulldogs hadn’t played a single game this year that didn’t end in a blowout.

The Bulldogs had six wins, the closest margin of which was 21 points in a thumping of Texas A&M. The Bulldogs also had two losses, which came by 28 and 39 points.

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Previews 2017: Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Texas A&M

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Previews 2017: Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Texas A&M

Ole Miss interim coach Matt Luke steps into his first major head coaching role, and he’ll have to manage the spirit of a team that could be forced out of a bowl game …. If anything, last season was an example of just how much Miss. St. relied on former QB Dak Prescott…The question for Kevin Sumlin is whether Texas A&M will continue to be patient, or begin to demand divisional championships beginning with this season.

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Is the SEC’s future too tied to a single ship?

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Is the SEC’s future too tied to a single ship?

Since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s already undisputed place atop the SEC landscape has only grown in altitude. Saban, who had won a national title at LSU prior to taking the Alabama job, has won four more national titles since 2007. Had Alabama knocked off Clemson in January, Saban would have tied Paul “Bear” Bryant for total number of titles, but would have done it at a substantially quicker pace. Many already believe Saban has supplanted Bryant as the best college coach that ever was; a win over Clemson would have galvanized those opinions.

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

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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.

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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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