Football Heads West for Matchup with Mississippi State on Saturday

Nov. 11, 2013

THE GAME: The top-ranked University of Alabama football team makes the drive 85 miles west for a Southeastern Conference road game against Mississippi State (4-5, 1-4 SEC) at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field on Saturday. The game between the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs will kickoff at 6:45 p.m. CT on ESPN. 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.

RANKINGS: Alabama enters week 12 of the 2013 season ranked first in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings, the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches polls. Mississippi State is unranked.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs enter the SEC Western Division clash with a 4-5 overall record and a 1-4 mark in Southeastern Conference play. Mississippi State is led by fifth-year head coach Dan Mullen and is coming off of a 51-41 loss at No. 11 Texas A&M in College Station. Dak Prescott has been MSU's primary starting quarterback with senior Tyler Russell also seeing action. Prescott has thrown for 1,542 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions while also leading the Bulldogs in rushing with 722 yards on 111 carries with 10 scores. LaDarius Perkins is the Dogs' top running back with 462 yards and two scores. The wide receiving corps is led by Jameon Lewis with 39 catches for 5050 yards and four touchdowns.

SERIES HISTORY: Alabama will be meeting the Mississippi State Bulldogs for the 98th time in school history and boasts a 75-18-3 record in the series. The Tide has won five straight in the series and 10 of the last 12 games. Alabama has outscored MSU 155-34 (31.0-6.8 ppg) in the last five meetings. The Crimson Tide also boasts 15-4 (.789) record against the Bulldogs in Starkville and a 27-7-2 (.777) in the state of Mississippi.

TIDE NO. 1 IN BCS STANDINGS: Alabama comes in at No. 1 in the fourth BCS Standings release of the 2013 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 .9958 average, which is 0.0339¬ higher than Florida State coming in at No. 2 (.9619). Ohio State is third with an average of .8926 while Stanford follows in fourth at .8689. Rounding out the top 10 is Baylor (.8618), Oregon (.7665), Auburn (.7206), Clemson (.7200), Missouri (.7118) and South Carolina (.5584).

PASSES WITHOUT A PICK: Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is at it again. The senior from Mobile is in the middle of his third streak of at least 100 consecutive passes without an interception. McCarron has currently thrown 123 passes since his last interception against Ole Miss to start the fourth quarter on Sept. 28 in the fourth game of the season. The streak of 123 consecutive pass attempts without an interception is the ninth longest in school history and the third longest of McCarron's career. He set the school record last year with 291 consecutive passes without a pick and also had a 152 attempt streak in 2011. McCarron has not thrown an interception in five games or 20 quarters, but his longest career streak of not throwing an interception is 12-plus games, spanning 50 quarters.

McCARRON RECEIVES MORE AWARD HONORS: AJ McCarron has been named a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and a semifinalist for Davey O'Brien Award and the Maxwell Award. The Golden Arm Award goes to the top senior (or fourth-year junior) quarterback while the O'Brien Award recognizes the top QB as well while the Maxwell goes to the nation's best player.

MOSLEY SEMIFINALIST FOR LOMBARDI, BEDNARIK & BUTKUS: Senior linebacker C.J. Mosley has been named a semifinalist for the Lombardi, Bednarik and Butkus Awards. The Butkus Award goes to the nation's best linebacker while the Lombardi Award honors the top interior lineman or linebacker and the Bednarik the top defensive player. Mosley leads the Tide with 71 tackles and 7.0 tackles for loss (15 yards) while breaking up five passes and recording four quarterback hurries.

COLLINS A SEMIFINALIST FOR THORPE AWARD: Alabama sophomore strong safety Landon Collins has been selected as one of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, which his presented annually to the nation's best defensive back. Collins is second on the team in tackles with 38 and has returned his only interception 89 yards for a touchdown. He has a team-high six pass breakups with one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two quarterback hurries.

MANDELL EXCELLING; RAY GUY SEMIFINALIST: Cody Mandell is turning in one if his best performances as a senior and was named a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award. The Lafayette, La., is among the national leaders at 46.2 yards per punt, but his value is even greater when you look at all of the numbers. Mandell is among the top 10 nationally in percentage of punts inside the 10-yard line as well with 20.7 percent (6 of 29). He has landed 11 of his 29 punts inside the 20-yard line, a rate of 37.9 percent. He has forced six more fair catches and the Tide ranks 11th nationally in net punting at 40.41 yards per kick. He has allowed just 68 punt return yards on nine returns this year, with 43 yards coming on one return.

ALABAMA-MISSISSIPPI STATE SERIES: Alabama holds a 75-18-3 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 98th time this weekend in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has played more games (97) and has more wins (75) 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 five straight in the series by an average of 31.0-6.8 ppg (155-34).

SABAN VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 10-1 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 5-1 against the Bulldogs in his first six years at Alabama, winning 38-7 last season in Tuscaloosa, 24-7 in Starkville a year before that 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 155-34 in the last five games and 167-61 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 98th time on the gridiron this Saturday. Mississippi State (97), Tennessee (96) 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 on the Plains on Nov. 30. The Tennessee game is the longest current running series in the UA record books. Tennessee and Alabama met for the 83rd consecutive year (neither team fielded a squad in 1943) earlier this year in Tuscaloosa.

NEXT GAME: Alabama returns home for the final contest of the 2013 season at Bryant-Denny Stadium against Chattanooga. The Crimson Tide has won all 11 meetings in the series, with the most recent coming in the 2009 season (45-0).