This weekend Alabama will travel over to Starkville, MS to play Mississippi State in football. MSU enters the game ranked 16th in the College Football Playoffs poll while Alabama is 2nd. A lot is on the line in this one. State hopes to keep their slim chances of winning the SEC West alive while Alabama looks to keep their perfect season and march to another appearance in the College Football Playoffs alive. No fan is being extra when they say “this is a big game.” And in the history of this matchup, big game carries different meaning.
The two towns where both schools are located – Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS and University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL – are about 83 miles apart. That’s a one hour and thirty minute drive if you’re traveling on Highway 82 on a good day. The close proximity in location is the only thing “close” when we discuss the history of this matchup. Since the 2 teams started playing in 1896, Alabama has a 79-18-3 record against the Bulldogs of Mississippi State. They’d have 81 wins if 2 weren’t vacated because of NCAA violations. Alabama currently owns a 9-game winning streak versus MSU. The average margin of victory in those games for Bama is 23.5 points. The last few seasons State fans have taken to Twitter to come up with slogans such as #HailState only to see their beloved Bulldogs catch some tough losses. The toughest of all recently occurred in 2014 when State entered the game ranked #1 in the Nation. On that day, State got off to a slow start and was beaten 25-20.
For more perspective of how one-sided this matchup has been, from 1958 to 1995 Mississippi State beat Alabama once! That one win for MSU – 6 to 3 – happened in 1980. Since 1982 State has beaten Alabama 6 times including a 3-peat from 1996-1998. The 3 wins occurred during the Jackie Sherrill Era. Those State teams were solid but Jackie’s best team at MSU still came up short against Alabama. In 1999, State went to Alabama undefeated and ranked #8. They left with a 19-7 defeat and went on to finish the season 10-2. So what happened in 2007, the last time MSU was able to beat Alabama. Well it was Sylvester Croom’s only winning season at MSU. The Bulldogs had a talented running back in Anthony Dixon and a stingy defense that helped push State that day. They even got an amazing 103 yards “Pick 6” from Jackson native Anthony Johnson.
Most, including myself expect Alabama to win. It’s been 10 years since the last time MSU beat Alabama and a few things are similar. State has a stingy defense and they have a tough runner in the backfield in QB Nick Fitzgerald (he’ll need to run smartly on Saturday unless he wants to die). Mississippi State enters Saturday’s game as a 14.5 point underdog but what’s a Vegas spread when you’ve been the underdog for over 100 years? Go give ’em hell State cause I’ll be on Twitter waiting if you don’t.
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