College Football Extra: No. 1 Mississippi State tries to take down No. 4 Alabama |

College Football Extra: No. 1 Mississippi State tries to take down No. 4 Alabama

Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott prepares to throw to one of his receivers during the second half against Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, in Lexington, Ky.

In 1941, Mississippi State defeated Alabama, 14-0, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., en route to winning the school’s only SEC championship.

The Bulldogs received another opportunity five decades later, in 1999, taking a No. 8 ranking and 8-0 record to Alabama but losing 19-7 as the Crimson Tide won the SEC West.

It occurred again in 2012: Mississippi State, 7-0 and ranked No. 13, lost 38-7 in Tuscaloosa to the defending national champions.

Two years later, the Bulldogs again are visiting No. 5 Alabama with much to prove in one of the SEC’s oldest rivalries. They enter Saturday’s game at Bryant-Denny Stadium 9-0 and ranked No. 1.

Located 90 miles apart, Alabama and Mississippi State are the closest SEC schools geographically.

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, who played tight end at Ursinus in Collegeville, is 0-5 against Alabama, with his team never scoring more than 10 points in any of those meetings. For that reason, Mullen is downplaying his team’s chances, despite its lofty ranking.

“In every article you read, we are big underdogs in this game,” Mullen said. “We know that role. Our guys are going to come in with a chip on their shoulder and play with great effort.”

Alabama leads the series 76-18-3. Mississippi State hasn’t defeated the Crimson Tide since winning consecutive games in 2006 and ’07.

“They probably have more five-star (recruits) sitting on the bench than we have on our entire team,” Mullen said. “This is a great challenge for us with all of the talent that they have.”

One talented player who eluded Alabama was Mississippi State junior quarterback Dak Prescott. A three-star recruit from Haugton, La., Prescott ranks No. 5 nationally in passing yards per completion (15.28) and No. 7 in passing efficiency (158.5), second in the conference behind Alabama senior Blake Sims.

Also a dangerous ball-carrier, Prescott leads SEC quarterbacks and is eighth overall in the conference with 779 rushing yards.

Alabama coach Nick Saban this week compared Prescott to former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who, like Prescott, terrorized SEC defenses running and passing.

In 55 games at Florida, Tebow completed 66.4 percent of his passes with 88 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry.

In 22 games at Mississippi State, Prescott has completed 59.7 percent of his passes with 32 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He averages 5.6 yards per carry.

“A couple of years ago, he got in the game in Tuscaloosa,” Mullen said about Prescott’s maturation process. “Now he has played in big games. He is going to walk on the field with confidence knowing that the situation is not too big for him.”

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.