Mississippi State Football: Friends with the enemy vs. Alabama

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 15: Wide receiver JoJo Earle #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs the ball against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 15, 2022 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won the game 52-49. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 15: Wide receiver JoJo Earle #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs the ball against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 15, 2022 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Tennessee won the game 52-49. (Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images) /

Mississippi State football heads to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide this Saturday night. The game will kick off at 6:00 p.m. CT at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Bulldogs come into this game 5-2, and the Crimson Tide at 6-1.

To learn more about the Alabama Crimson Tide, I met up with Brent Taylor, a graduate of the University of Alabama’s chemical engineering program. He has been writing with Roll Bama Roll since 2014.

He mentions, for some reason, they’ve kept me around all these years. I also got bored in 2011 before I had a smartphone (and therefore constant internet access) and learned to do yo-yo tricks. So that’s… neat. I guess? Also, for what it’s worth, some of the best engineers I’ve worked with in my career have been from Mississippi State. You have an amazingly practical program there.

How does one roll over someone like roll rolls over Bama rolls? Are you following?

How much Tide could a Roll Tide roll if a Roll Tide could Roll Tide?
A lot. The answer is a lot.

Do you have an elephant head anywhere in your house? I’m talking real elephant head.

Elephants are endangered. I WOULD NEVER.

Stuffed bulldogs, though? I have a whole collection. 14 in a row, to be exact.

Who are Alabama’s most valuable players? 2 offensive and 2 defensive? (Can’t be a former Heisman trophy winner)

Hmmmm, if I really can’t say Bryce Young… Then I’d say defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry and Star (hybrid corner) Brian Branch on defense. McKinstry has been absolutely phenomenal in his first year starting, to the point of teams actively not targeting him for an entire game. Plus he’s become by far and away the best punt returner in the country. As for Branch, his position requires him to match up with slot receivers, tight ends, and running backs on all different routes, and also be a linebacker in the run game. It’s a huge ask, and he makes the entire defensive scheme possible. (Self-plug, check out my offseason article on him)

Offensively, transfer RB Jahmyr Gibbs has been the only real offensive skill position guy to really stand out. He’s got tremendous vision, is dangerous in the open field, and is the Tide’s top threat as both a runner and receiver. And past that? Uhhh… I guess maybe Ja’Corey Brooks. He hasn’t actively ruined too many drives with drops and has a few nice catches in clutch moments, so I guess he’s probably next up for MVP. It’s been a low bar.

How’s Bryce Young doing after suffering an injury vs. Arkansas, sitting out a game, and then taking a beating last week vs. Tennessee?

To be totally honest, I figured Bryce Young’s injury was a season-ender. So when he came back against Tennessee, I feared it was going to be ugly. Instead, he turned out one of the most impressive overall games of his career, despite it winding up in a loss. He definitely took a beating in the valiant effort, though (LOL at the NCAA acting like they protect QBs), but nothing really seemed to phase him, so I’m expecting he’s fully good to go going forward.

Has the Crimson Tide community recovered from last Saturday? If you need any recommendations on how to handle a loss, the Bulldog faithful can certainly assist you.

There is no recovering from blowing a game to a puke-colored school. There is only waiting to make the world right again in a rematch. Nothing good comes from any team with orange in their colors winning a game. Ever. No exceptions.

As for our fans… Yeah, we probably need a little perspective. Nobody hates their own team and is ready to fire Saban after their annual single loss quite like Alabama fans.

Do you see a way that Mississippi State can win on Saturday in Tuscaloosa?

If I’m being honest… No. Not really. For one, Saban has really had Leach’s number against the Air Raid system the last two years, and the personnel hasn’t really changed much for either team from last year. Plus the Bulldogs somehow got on the bad side of the scheduling gods and somehow always seem to be the team stuck playing against Alabama the week after a Tide loss… And that never goes well for the team catching that frustration vent.

Who do you expect to have a big game on Saturday?

I mentioned him above, but Brian Branch has been key to stopping the Bulldog offense the last two years. He’s a defensive back that’s a short-yardage tackling machine, and his contributions should be huge, if maybe not praised on broadcast, at blowing up perimeter blocks and keeping the Bulldog offense in check.

Score prediction and analysis of what happens on Saturday between the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide

I think Mississippi State’s improved run game will help out their offense and they’ll fare better than the previous two years against the Tide. That said, Alabama’s defense is likely going to be utterly bound and determined to not let their fiasco last week happen again, and I suspect they can maintain that intensity for at least a game or two. So let’s go 21-24 points for the Bulldogs, with a late TD making it look a little better than it was.

On the other side of the ball, I don’t have a great feel for Miss State’s defense. They gave up a bunch to LSU, but kept Kentucky in the 20s and Arkansas at 17. I think they’re good enough they’ll hold Alabama below their season average… But that’s still like 38-41 points or so for the Tide.