Football Returns Home to Host Undefeated Mississippi State

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM
ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM

Oct. 22, 2012

Game #8 |  No. 1/1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) vs. 13/12 Mississippi St. (7-0, 3-0 SEC)
 Date Saturday, Oct. 27 | 7:30 p.m. CT
 Location Tuscaloosa, Ala. | Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)
 Tickets Ticket Information
 Television ESPN | Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe
 Radio Crimson Tide Sports Network | Listen Live
 Live Stats GameTracker
 Game Notes Alabama NotesMississippi State Notes
 All-Time Series UA leads 74-18-3 | Last Meeting: UA 24 - MSU 7 | 11/12/11

THE GAME: Alabama returns to the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium this week when it hosts No. 13/12 Mississippi State. The game marks the 97th meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs in a series that dates back to 1896. Alabama currently leads 74-18-3 and has won the previous four games against Mississippi State. Last year’s contest in Starkville resulted in a 24-7 victory for the Tide. The game will be televised by ESPN with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. CT. Brad Nessler will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Todd Blackledge at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Holly Rowe. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.

HEAD COACH Nick Saban: Alabama head coach Nick Saban (Kent State, 1973) is in his sixth season with the Crimson Tide. Named the school’s 27th head coach on January 3, 2007, Saban has compiled a 57-12 record (62-12 before five vacated wins in 2007) at Alabama while leading the Tide to two SEC Western Division championships, one conference title and two national championships. Saban holds a career record of 148-54-1 (153-54-1) as a collegiate head coach, while also serving at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU. Saban won his first national championship as head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2003, guiding the Tigers to a 13-1 record that season. Overall, Saban has coached four conference championship teams (1990 Mid-American, 2001 SEC, 2003 SEC and 2009 SEC) and 13 of his 16 teams have played in postseason bowl games with the Tide appearing in a bowl game each year under Saban’s direction. Saban is the only active coach to win three BCS national championships and the first to accomplish the feat at two different schools.

RANKINGS: Alabama remains at No. 1 in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls entering the ninth week of the 2012 season. The Tide is a unanimous No. 1 in the coaches’ poll and only missed being unanimous in the Associated Press rankings by one vote. Mississippi State stands at No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 12 in the coaches’ poll.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Alabama will be meeting the Mississippi State Bulldogs for the 97th time in school history and boasts a 74-18-3 record (not including one forfeit and one vacated win) in the series. The Tide has won four straight in the series and nine of the last 11 games. Alabama has outscored MSU 117-27 in the last four meetings. The Crimson Tide also boasts 40-9-1 (.810) record against the Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa and a 47-11-2 (.800) in the state of Alabama.

NEXT GAME: Alabama will play its final road game of the 2012 season on Nov. 3 at Tiger Stadium against No. 6 LSU. It will be the 77th meeting between the Crimson Tide and Tigers. Overall, Alabama leads the series 46-25-5 and has claimed three of the last five meetings, including a 21-0 shutout in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans. UA’s last win in Baton Rouge was a 27-21 overtime victory in 2008.

TIDE REMAINS NO. 1 IN BCS STANDINGS: Alabama remains No. 1 in the second BCS Standings release of the 2012 season. The BCS percentage is calculated by averaging the percent totals of the Harris Interactive, USA Today Coaches and six computer rankings. The Crimson Tide garnered a .9625 average, which is over .300 higher than Florida, who came in at No. 2 (.9310). Kansas State is third with an average of .9111 while Oregon follows at .8966. Rounding out the top 10 is Notre Dame (.8512), LSU (.7862), Oregon State (.7421), Oklahoma (.7126), USC (.5767) and Georgia (.5379).

PROTECTING THE FOOTBALL: Alabama and Louisiana Tech are the only two remaining teams that have not thrown an interception this season. It has been 10.5 games since a Crimson Tide quarterback threw an interception, which is the longest streak in the nation by three games. Louisiana Tech threw an interception in its final game of the 2011 season. The Tide’s last interception came in the 10th game of the 2011 campaign against Mississippi State at the end of the second quarter.   

RED ZONE EFFICIENCY: Alabama enters the Mississippi State contest 30-for-31 in its red zone trips, tied for first in the nation in that category at 97 percent. The Crimson Tide has scored 23 touchdowns in the red zone in 2012 and kicked seven field goals. On the year, UA has scored 14 rushing touchdowns and passed for nine inside the 20-yard line.

TOUGH TO SCORE ON: Under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama has traditionally been one of the most difficult teams to score touchdowns against. In 2012, the Tide has allowed its opponents to come away with points on only 58 percent of opportunities in the red zone (7 of 12). Alabama has the fourth-most efficient red-zone defense in the nation. The Tide’s defense has surrendered five touchdowns and two field goals this season from inside the red zone while allowing opposing offenses to enter the red zone only 12 times in seven games. Overall, UA has surrendered six touchdowns and three field goals on defenses this season. UA only allowed nine touchdowns by opposing offenses all of last season and just six touchdowns and two field goals inside the red zone. UA also led the nation in red zone defense last season, allowing scores just 59 percent of the time (10-of-17). Alabama ranked tied for fourth in 2010 and tied for second in 2009 with both teams allowing a score on 67 percent of opponents’ red zone opportunities.

INTERCEPTION MARGIN: Over the last four seasons Alabama’s starting quarterbacks have taken care of the football and the Crimson Tide defense has done its part by intercepting opposing quarterbacks. Dating back to the start of the 2009 season, Alabama’s starting quarterbacks have thrown 14 interceptions in 1,120 pass attempts (one interception every 80.0 pass attempts), while the defense has recorded 72 interceptions in 47 games. The Tide’s current starting quarterback, AJ McCarron, has thrown five interceptions in 530 career attempts, which marks a school and SEC record for quarterbacks with at least 400 pass attempts. McCarron is averaging one interception every 106.0 attempts, which is better than any SEC quarterback (Peyton Manning; 1 every 95 attempts in 1995) has done in any single season (minimum 200 attempts).

YARDS HARD TO COME BY: Since the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has not surrendered yards easily. Over the course of that 21-game span, the Tide defense has allowed just one opposing team to reach 300 total yards (Georgia Southern, 341). Teams have been held under 200 total yards 12 times, and less than 100 total yards twice. Rushing against the Tide has been even more difficult over that span as teams have been held to under 100 yards 18 times, under 50 yards 10 times and in negative yardage twice.

SHELLEY ONE OF TWO PERFECT KICKERS IN 2012: Senior Jeremy Shelley is one of four kickers across the nation to have yet to miss an extra point or a field goal in 2012. Thus far, Shelley has hit all 35 of his extra point attempts and all eight of his field goals. Four of his field goals have come from the 20-29 yard range, while the other four have come from 30-39 yards. His long on the year is 38. The Tide did have one unsuccessful PAT conversion, but was credited as a team miss after a mishandled snap.

WINNING BIG: When Alabama wins, it usually does so in impressive fashion. Over its last 20 wins, dating back to the 49-7 victory over Michigan State at the 2011 Capital One Bowl, the Crimson Tide has defeated its opponent by 21 points or more in 17 of those contests. Over that span the Tide has downed 11 of those opponents by more than 30 points and posted more than a 40-point margin of victory five times. In the 20 wins, Alabama has an average margin of victory of 31.1 points (621-point margin over 20 games). In addition, the Tide has won its last 10 games by at least 19 points.

TURNOVERS LEAD TO POINTS: Alabama has converted the 20 turnovers it has forced in seven games this season into 112 points. At the same time, the Crimson Tide has surrendered six turnovers that has resulted in just three points for a 112-3 advantage. Alabama forced three turnovers against Michigan and turned those into 14 points. Against Western Kentucky, Alabama produced 21 points off four Hilltoppers miscues. Alabama capitalized on five Arkansas turnovers for 35 points, followed by another 14 off three interceptions against Mississippi. At Missouri, the Tide scored 14 points off a pair of interceptions and then tallied 14 points on two turnover at Tennessee while the Vols got three points off of one Alabam turnover. The Tide has a 119-3 edge in points off turnovers if you count the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against LSU.

TURNOVER MARGIN: Alabama enters the ninth week of the season tied for third nationally in turnover margin at plus-2.00. The Crimson Tide has forced 20 turnovers – 13 interceptions and seven fumbles – while only giving up six possessions. Over the last nine games, dating back to the 2011 Auburn game and the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, Alabama holds a 24-7 edge in turnover margin. UA forced a total of 10 fumbles in 2011, recovering seven. In 2012 the Tide has forced 14 and recovered seven in seven games.

BEATING THE BEST: Alabama is 19-6 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past four seasons and 11-4 against AP top 10 teams. The Crimson Tide won its 2012 season opener against No. 8 Michigan to start the season 1-0 against the AP Top 25. Alabama went 4-1 vs. top 25 teams in 2011 and 5-3 against the AP Top 25 in 2010. Six of the last seven matchups have gone in favor of the Tide, with the only loss coming in a 9-6 overtime defeat to LSU on November 5, 2011.

ALABAMA UNDER SABAN IN OCTOBER: Alabama has been very successful in the second month of the season under head coach Nick Saban. Now in his sixth season at Alabama, the Crimson Tide sports a 17-1 record (19-1 including two vacated victories in 2007) in October. In 18 games over that span, the Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 616-254 and is 5-1 against ranked opponents. The only October loss under Saban was at No. 19 South Carolina on Oct. 9, 2010, breaking an 11-game winning streak. Alabama has won its last eight games, all against SEC foes, in October since then by an average of 30.6 points.

THREE-AND-OUTS: The Alabama defense has been one of the leaders again this season in forcing three-and-outs. The Crimson Tide has forced a three-and-out on 49.4 percent (42-of-85) of opponents drives this season, averaging 6.0 per contest. Alabama had a season-high of nine three-and-outs against Florida Atlantic, had seven against Arkansas to open SEC play and six at Missouri and Tennessee. (Any drive that was stopped in three plays or less or was four plays and a turnover on downs was used to compile this note).

ALABAMA NO. 2 FOR MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Alabama has won 55 games dating back to the start of the 2008 season, which is the second most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed that with a perfect 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record in 2011. Alabama is 7-0 this season. During that span, the Tide has the most victories of any team that plays in a BCS conference.

10-WIN SEASONS: Alabama reached the 10-win milestone for its fourth consecutive season in 2011, finishing the campaign with a 12-1 record. The Tide has 31 10-win seasons in 117 seasons, two back of Oklahoma (33) for the most 10-win seasons in college football. Alabama has had six 10-win seasons since the 2002 season (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011). Tide head coach Nick Saban is the 11th coach in school history to lead his team to a 10-win season. In addition, Saban is the fifth coach in school history to have more than one 10-win season.

WILLIAMS ONE OF FOUR NON-PUNTERS FROM DOWN UNDER: Senior defensive lineman Jesse Williams is one of just four Australians playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision in a position other than punter. There are currently 13 punters on FBS rosters from Australia.

MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICANS: ESPN.com and SI.com announced their midseason All-America teams. Offensive linemen Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack and cornerback Dee Milliner were named to both squads while linebacker C.J. Mosley was named to the SI.com defensive first team. D.J. Fluker garnered second team SI.com offensive honors.

JONES NAMED SENIOR CLASS FINALIST: Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones (Germantown, Tenn.) was one of 10 NCAA® Football Bowl Subdivision student-athletes selected as finalists for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate football. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.

DEFENSIVE NOTES

ROLLING OUT THE DEFENSE: Under head coach Nick Saban, the Alabama defense has proven to be one of the best in the nation. The Crimson Tide led the nation in all five major defensive categories last season and is first once again in four of those five this season. Alabama has ranked among the top 10 nationally in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense in each of the last five seasons. The Tide has also ranked inside the top 15 in pass efficiency defense and pass defense in each of the last four seasons. Alabama lost seven starters from last year’s unit with six of those starters in the NFL this season. UA enters the Mississippi State game with the nation’s top-ranked scoring defense (8.3 ppg) as well as the No. 1 total defense (195.57 ypg), rush defense (58.71 ypg), pass efficiency defense (83.11 rating). UA ranks second in pass defense (136.86 ypg). The Tide also leads the nation in first downs allowed at 11.71 per game (82 total) and is second in third-down defense (25.0 percent).

MILLINER EXPERIENCE BOLSTERS TIDE DEFENSE: Alabama junior cornerback Dee Milliner may not be listed as a returning starter, but it is hard to ignore his experience. Milliner, who is turning in an All-America-caliber season, boasts 22-career starts in just two and a half years of action at the Capstone. He started 11 games as a freshman in 2010 and then served as the Crimson Tide’s third cornerback in 2011. He made six starts last season and was on the field more than several starters due to the high percentage of nickel and dime defense UA played in 2011. He has played in 32 career games and has six interceptions to go along with 29 pass breakups and 105 career tackles. Milliner leads the nation in passes defended at 2.5 per game (13 PBU, 2 INT).

MOSLEY TIES SCHOOL MARK FOR INTERCEPTIONS FOR A TD: Junior C.J. Mosley intercepted a pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown against Michigan in the Cowboys Classic. The touchdown was the third interception return for a score for Mosley in his Alabama career, tying Antonio Langham’s (1990-93) school record. Mosley had two touchdown returns in 2010 (vs. Florida and Georgia State). He also has five career interceptions with picks against LSU in the 2011 BCS Allstate National Championship Game and one at Tennessee in 2012.

10 POINTS OR LESS: Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or less 37 times since the start of the 2007 season with the most recent occurrence coming on Oct. 13, at Missouri, which was the fourth this year. Alabama was successful in holding opponents under 10 points in nine games in 2011. In 2010, the Tide held opponents to 10 points or less eight times and limited opponents to that mark seven times in 2008 and 2009. In 2007, Alabama posted two games in which it held opponents to that mark. Alabama has shutout opponents eight times during the Saban tenure.

HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: In head coach Nick Saban’s 74-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense 49 times, or 66.2 percent of the time. 

HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 200: During head coach Nick Saban’s last 61 games at the Capstone, the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to less than 200 yards of total offense 24 times, including three times in 2012. Alabama accomplished the feat eight times in 2011. The Tide held Kent State to 90 yards and LSU to just 92 yards BCS Championship Game, which marked the second and third times a Saban defense has limited its opponent to less than 100 yards of total offense. Alabama’s best came in 2009 when they held Chattanooga to 84 yards of total offense. The Tide held opponents under 200 yards three times in 2010, four times in 2009 and six times in 2008.

RUSHING DEFENSE: Limiting opposing running backs to less than 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered only 10 individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season, a mark that leads the nation. Since head coach Nick Saban’s arrival, the Tide has allowed just five players to rush for more than 100 yards in a game: Georgia Southern’s Dominique Swope (153 yards), Tennessee’s Tauren Poole (117 yards), Mississippi’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis (131 yards), Houston’s Anthony Alridge (100 yards) and Arkansas’ Darren McFadden (195 yards).

TOUGH SLEDDING ON THE GROUND: Alabama leads the nation in giving up the fewest rushing touchdowns since the start of the 2005 season, surrendering only 54. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 36 rushing touchdowns, while Ohio State is second, allowing 50. Alabama has surrendered four rushing touchdowns in 2012.

PICKING UP SACKS: Alabama has been getting to the quarterback regularly as of late, bringing down the signal caller three or more times in seven of its last nine games. Over that span, the Crimson Tide has tallied 26 sacks and recorded at least one sack in eight straight contests prior to the Tennessee game.

OFFENSIVE NOTES

MCCARRON PASSING TOUCHDOWNS: Over the last 10 games, junior quarterback AJ McCarron has been finding the end zone at a frequent rate, totaling 22 scoring tosses over that span. In seven of the last 10 games, McCarron has also thrown two or more touchdowns, including four at Tennessee. The signal caller has thrown two or more in five of the seven games this season, setting a new career high in multi-passing touchdown games. He has equaled his career high of four touchdowns twice during the span, against Western Kentucky and at Tennessee.

McCARRON STARTS FAST: Quarterback AJ McCarron has tossed 16 touchdowns in the first seven games this season. No other Alabama quarterback has thrown for that many to start a season. The school record for touchdowns in the first seven games was 12 by Brodie Croyle (2005) and Mike Shula (1985). Shula also owns the school record for most passing touchdowns after eight games with 14. Ten of McCarron’s touchdown passes occurred within the first four games making him the first Alabama quarterback to throw for 10 touchdowns in a four-game stretch. The previous record was nine by Gary Hollingsworth (1989) and John Parker Wilson in 2007. McCarron has also thrown for nine touchdowns in his last four games (FAU, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee) this season.

McCARRON PASSES WITHOUT AN INTERCEPTION: AJ McCarron continues to build his school record of passes without an interception. After passing Brodie Croyle’s mark of 190 passes against Mississippi, McCarron now sports a streak of 239 passes without an interception after the win at Tennessee. His streak of 239 consecutive passes without an interception is the second longest in SEC history, but still well back of Kentucky’s Andre Woodson, who went 325 attempts between interceptions. The NCAA record is held by Russell Wilson of North Carolina State over the 2008-09 seasons.

AJ EFFICIENT IN PASSING GAME: Quarterback AJ McCarron leads the nation in passing efficiency with a 183.63 mark. McCarron has tossed 16 touchdowns without an interception this season (154 pass attempts). He is completing 68.8 percent of his passes for 1,476 yards.

LACY BREAKS AWAY: Junior running back Eddie Lacy eclipsed the 100-yard mark on just his sixth carry of the game at Missouri. The 100-yard performance was the second on the season for the Geismar, La., native and the fourth of his career. A significant chuck of his yards came on a career-high 73-yard score, the longest run for the Crimson Tide since Trent Richardson found the end zone against Mississippi on Oct. 15, 2011. Lacy finished with a career-high 177 yards and tied a career high with three rushing touchdowns. He has 570 yards rushing on 99 attempts in 2012 for a 6.8 yards per carry average.

LACY AND YELDON: Running backs Eddie Lacy (177) and T.J. Yeldon (144) combined to rush for 321 yards and five touchdowns against Missouri on Oct. 13. The two became the first rushing duo to score two or more rushing touchdowns in the same game since Trent Richardson (4) and Jalston Fowler (2) combined for six against Mississippi on Oct. 15, 2011. That was also the last time a duo rushed for more than 100 yards apiece.

A BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama has had one of the most balanced offenses in the nation over the past four years. That trend is continuing again in 2012 as the Crimson Tide has has collected 1,536 yards rushing in addition to 1,541 yards passing, a difference of just five yards. Since the 2009 season, Alabama has passed for 10,364 while rushing for 9,713, a difference of just 651 yards. The balance has led to an average of 35.2 points per game. 

YELDON FIRST TRUE FRESHMAN TO GO OVER 100 IN DEBUT: Running back T.J. Yeldon became the first Alabama true freshman to rush for more than 100 yards in his debut in the win over Michigan, finishing the game with 111 yards on 11 carries and one rushing touchdown. Yeldon is the seventh Alabama running back to crack the century mark since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007. Mark Ingram was the last true freshman to gain at least 95 yards in his debut, running for 96 yards against Clemson in the 2008 opener at the Georgia Dome. Yeldon gained 144 yards at Missouri for his second 100-yard rushing effort and followed that with 129 yards at Tennessee for his third.

FINISHING STRONG: Over the last 21 games, dating back to the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State on January 1, 2011, the Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 593-111 in the final three quarters of games after holding a 196-40 edge in the first quarter. The disparity is even wider over the last 17 games where Alabama owned a 166-44 scoring edge in the first quarter and a 546-116 edge in the final three quarters. Alabama outscored its opposition in the second half of its last 18 games by a score of 316-61.

BALL PROTECTION: The Alabama offense has protected the football better than any team in the country over the last five years. In 61 games, the Crimson Tide has turned the ball over just 63 times (36 fumbles, 27 interceptions) for an average of 1.03 turnovers per game, better than Ohio State’s second best average of 1.23 per game (74 turnovers, 60 games). Since 2009, that mark is even better as the Tide has turned the ball over just 44 times in 47 games (0.94 per game). Individually since 2009, UA starting quarterbacks have thrown an impressively-low 14 interceptions in 1,120 attempts (1 INT for every 80.0 attempts). The top two running backs in the rotation dating back to the 2009 season have only lost a fumble five times. Over the 61-game span, the Tide’s top two running backs have recorded 1,246 touches, losing the ball just once in every 249.2 carries.

Barrett Jones: VERSATILITY ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE: Senior All-American Barrett Jones started at right guard in 2009 and 2010, but added a few responsibilities to his résumé in the 2011 season. He started at left tackle and also saw snaps at left guard, right tackle and center last year. The winner of the Outland Trophy, Jones has started 43 games at the Capstone, including 25 at right guard, 11 at left tackle and seven this season at center. Jones is listed among the top centers in the nation and a candidate for the Rimington Trophy and Outland Trophy. In addition to being named the 2011 Outland Trophy winner, Jones also received the ARA Sportsmanship Award and the Wuerffel Trophy for his commitment to the community and academics. 

O-LINE EXPERIENCE A KEY: The Alabama offensive line has been one of the most recognized and skilled groups in the country. Preseason magazines, including Athlon Sports and Phil Steele, rank Alabama’s offensive line as the No. 1 unit in the country. Seven games into the 2012 season, the line represents 130 starts, with senior center Barrett Jones claiming 43 of those starts. Chance Warmack has made 33 starts at left guard, while D.J. Fluker has 29 starts at right guard. Junior Anthony Steen has 18 at right guard while the newest addition, Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle, now has seven starts to his credit.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES

KICKOFF RETURN FOR A TOUCHDOWN: Christion Jones answered a Mississippi touchdown on Sept. 29, with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the first by a Crimson Tide player since Trent Richardson found the end zone at Duke on Sept. 18, 2010. The 99-yard return for a score tied for the eighth longest in school history.

FOSTER DIALS IN FROM DEEP: With his career-long 52-yard field goal against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 22, Cade Foster became the first Alabama kicker since Neal Thomas in 2000 to connect on three 50-plus yard field goals in the same season. His 52-yard strike was the longest by a Tide kicker since Leigh Tiffin hit from 52 yards against Utah in the Sugar Bowl on January 2, 2009.

KICKOFF PROWESS: Alabama kicker Cade Foster recorded five touchbacks in the first half against Arkansas and six against Florida Atlantic on September 22. On Sept. 29, against Mississippi, Foster collected a career-high seven touchbacks while recording three at Missouri and four at Tennessee. Seven games into the 2012 season the Crimson Tide has already exceeded the entire amount tallied from last season, totaling 31 thus far. Kickoffs have been moved up to the 35 yard line this season.
SERIES NOTES

ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI STATE SERIES: Alabama holds a 74-18-3 lead over Mississippi State in a series that dates back to the 1896 season. The Mississippi State series is tied for the second-longest continuously played series in the Alabama record book, dating back to the 1948 season. The two border rivals will be meeting for the 97th time this weekend in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has played more games (96) and has more wins (74) against Mississippi State than any other opponent on record. The Tide and Bulldogs first met in 1896 with the Crimson Tide posting a 20-0 win in Tuscaloosa. Mississippi State posted its first win with an 11-0 victory in Columbus, Miss., during the 1903 season. The Crimson Tide’s 21-10 win in 1975 was the school’s 750th all-time football game. From 1958-79, Alabama posted a 22-game winning streak in the series. The 22-game winning streak is the longest in series history. State ended that streak by upsetting No. 1 ranked Alabama, 6-3, on Nov. 1, 1980, at Mississippi Memorial Stadium in Jackson. That 6-3 win also snapped Alabama’s school and SEC-record 28-game winning streak. The Tide won the next 15 games in the series from 1981-95 before MSU ended the streak with a 17-16 win on Nov. 16, 1996, at Scott Field. The one-point win was State’s first on-campus win over the Tide and first in the state of Mississippi since 1980. Mississippi State followed up that victory with wins in 1997 and 1998, giving the Bulldogs three straight wins over Alabama. The three-game winning streak from 1996-98 equaled the longest in series history by the Bulldogs. State also won three straight games from 1912-14. Alabama ended a two-game series losing streak with a 32-7 win on Nov. 15, 2008, at Bryant-Denny Stadium and have won four straight in the series.

SABAN VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 9-1 in his career against Mississippi State, with his only loss coming in his first visit to Starkville as the Tide’s head coach in 2007. Saban is 4-1 against the Bulldogs in his first five years at Alabama, winning 24-7 last season in Starkville and 30-10 during the 2010 season in Tuscaloosa. Alabama posted a 31-3 victory in Starkville in 2009 after winning 32-7 on Nov. 15, 2008, in Tuscaloosa. The Tide fell  17-12 in Starkville in 2007. Saban was 5-0 against Mississippi State while serving as head coach at LSU from 2000-04. The Tigers outscored the Bulldogs, 214-57, in those five games. Alabama has outscored MSU 117-27 in the last four games and 129-44 during Saban’s tenure.

STATE IS TIDE’S MOST REGULARLY-PLAYED FOE: Alabama has played more games against Mississippi State than any other opponent. The two border rivals will be meeting for the 97th time on the gridiron this Saturday. Mississippi State (96), Tennessee (95) and Vanderbilt (82) are the only three opponents the Crimson Tide has played at least 80 times. In addition, the Mississippi State game is the fifth oldest series in the UA record books as the two teams first met in 1896. The Mississippi State and Auburn series’ are tied for the second-longest running series in the UA record books (64 games), both starting in 1948. Alabama will face Auburn in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 24. The Tennessee game is the longest current running series in the UA record books. Tennessee and Alabama met for the 82nd consecutive year (neither team fielded a squad in 1943) last week in Knoxville.

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES

LAST TIME ALABAMA TRAILED: Despite only trailing for one play when Mississippi scored 1:20 into the second quarter, it was the first time Alabama had done so in regulation since Tennessee opened the scoring with a field goal with 3:58 left in the first quarter last season (October 22, 2011). That streak spanned over nine complete games or 40 quarters. After trailing to Mississippi, Alabama scored 21 unanswered points to end the half.

47 NATIONAL TV APPEARANCES IN 62 GAMES: Alabama’s appearance on ESPN this weekend will mark the 47th nationally-televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. The Tide will play its sixth nationally televised game in 2012, with one game on ABC, two on CBS and three on ESPN, including this Saturday’s game against Mississippi State. In 2011, Alabama played on CBS four times, while having one game on ABC, two games on ESPN and ESPN2 with one game on ESPNU. In 2010, Alabama had five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, two games on ESPN2, one on ABC and one on ESPNU. In 2009, UA played two games on ABC, including the BCS National Championship Game, and six games on CBS while ESPN broadcasted two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games broadcasted nationally, including five games on CBS, three games on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.

TIDE 56-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 56-3 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban. Alabama had a 28-game winning streak snapped in 2010 against LSU. The first two losses came against LSU with the last loss to Auburn in 2010. In 2007, UA held a 20-17 halftime lead before losing, 41-34, on Nov. 3, 2007, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In 2010, UA led 10-3 at the half before the Tigers rallied for a 24-20 win at Tiger Stadium. The Tide lost 28-27 to Auburn to close out the 2010 season after leading 24-7 at the half. The Crimson Tide is 3-5 under Saban when trailing at halftime and 3-3 when tied at halftime. The three wins when trailing at the half came in a 34-24 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech on Sept. 5, 2009, in Atlanta; a 24-15 victory over No. 9 LSU on Nov. 7, 2009; and a 24-20 win at Arkansas on Sept. 25, 2010. Alabama’s three wins when tied at halftime came at LSU on Nov. 8, 2008, (a 27-21 victory), at Auburn with a 26-21 win on Nov. 27, 2009 and against Tennessee on Oct. 22, 2011 (a 37-6 victory).

TRUE FRESHMEN IN ACTION: Alabama has had 11 true freshmen make their debuts so far this season, including defensive back Landon Collins, wide receiver Amari Cooper, linebacker Denzel Devall, running back Kenyan Drake, linebacker Tyler Hayes, wide receiver Cyrus Jones, defensive lineman Darren Lake, linebacker Dillon Lee, linebacker Reggie Ragland, defensive back Geno Smith and running back T.J. Yeldon. Alabama has also had 11 redshirt freshmen – tight end Brent Calloway, quarterback Phillip Ely, tight end Malcolm Faciane, running back Dee Hart, center Ryan Kelly, defensive lineman LaMichael Fanning, defensive end D.J. Pettway, wide receivers Marvin Shinn, defensive back Bradley Sylve, defensive back Jabriel Washington and receiver Danny Woodson Jr. Junior college transfer Deion Belue also started and played his first seven games with the Crimson Tide.

CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE: Alabama returned 43 lettermen from the 2011 National Championship team, but the Crimson Tide also boasts 21 players who played on both 2009 and 2011 championship teams. Looking a little deeper you find the Tide had eight players that saw action for both 2009 and 2011 teams. There were also three players that started at least two games in both 2009 and 2011, including Barrett Jones, Michael Williams and Nico Johnson. Below is a list of the 21 current players that were on both of Coach Saban’s national championship teams at Alabama.

CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICANS: Since head coach Nick Saban became the Alabama head coach in 2007, he has had a knack for developing young recruits into All-Americans. In his five years at UA, Saban has produced the most consensus All-Americans in the nation with 11. Saban’s consensus All-Americans include Antoine Caldwell (center, 2008), Andre Smith (offensive line, 2008), Terrence Cody (defensive line, 2008 and 2009), Rolando McClain (linebacker, 2009), Mark Ingram (running back, 2009), Mike Johnson (offensive line, 2009), Javier Arenas (cornerback, 2009), Mark Barron (safety, 2011), Dont’a Hightower (linebacker, 2011), Barrett Jones (offensive line, 2011) and Trent Richardson (running back, 2011). Second in the same time period is Oklahoma with nine, while Florida has registered seven in that five-year period.

ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama’s success on the field over the past five seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has also coincided with the Crimson Tide’s success in the classroom. The 2012 squad features six players that already have degrees in hand, including Barrett Jones (August, 2011), Robert Lester (December, 2011), William Ming (May, 2012), Damion Square (May, 2012), Carson Tinker (August, 2012) and Michael Williams (May, 2012). Over the past five seasons (2008-12) Alabama has seen 58 players compete for the Crimson Tide after having already graduated.

NICK’S KIDS: At Michigan State, head coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, started the Nick’s Kids Foundation, which the Sabans have continued in Tuscaloosa. Since their arrival at Alabama, the Sabans have helped raise more than $2.5 million for “Nick’s Kids” that has been distributed to more than 150 charities and organizations throughout the state of Alabama.

ALABAMA’S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 197-126-4 (.609) all-time record in 326 televised games. This does not include pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts.

GAMEDAY COACHING DUTIES FOR CRIMSON TIDE IN 2012: The Crimson Tide’s assistants will be split between the coaches’ booth and the sideline in 2012. Nussmeier, Burton Burns, Jeremy Pruitt and Thompson will be in the booth, while Kirby Smart, Chris Rumph, Jeff Stoutland, Bobby Williams and Mike Groh are on the sideline.

SCHOLARSHIP SENIORS: Alabama is tied for fourth in the nation with the fewest number of scholarship seniors as the Crimson Tide features nine heading into the 2012 campaign. The Crimson Tide was one of four teams in the No. 1 spot until long snapper Carson Tinker was awarded a scholarship by head coach Nick Saban on August 20.

NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw eight former UA players selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Trent Richardson (third overall to the Cleveland Browns), Mark Barron (seventh overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Dre Kirkpatrick (17th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals) and Dont’a Hightower (25th overall to the New England Patriots). Courtney Upshaw was next to go in the second round, and 35th overall pick, to the Baltimore Ravens. The Tide had two drafted in the fifth round with Josh Chapman going to the Indianapolis Colts as the 136th overall pick and DeQuan Menzie to the Kansas City Chiefs as the 146th overall pick. Rounding out the 2012 NFL draft for Alabama was Brad Smelley, who went in the seventh round as the 247th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns. Over the past two seasons, the Tide has had a combined eight first round draft picks, ranking Alabama fourth in most players selected over a two-year span. In the common draft era The Tide also came in a No. 4 on the most defensive players selected in the first round over a three-year span with six.