By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – For the just the sixth time in Mississippi State’s 113 year history on the gridiron its football squad will face the top-ranked team in the country.
Five of those meetings have been against this weekend’s opponent, Alabama, with the only exception coming in 2009 against Florida.
The Bulldogs are 1-4 against No. 1-ranked opponents, with their lone win coming in the shocking 6-3 victory over the Crimson Tide in 1980.
“It’s a great opportunity for us this week,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen. “We’ve got the opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country and that’s huge. Only nine teams in the whole country have had that opportunity so far this year so it’s unique and you don’t always get this. For our guys it’ll obviously be a great challenge.”
Alabama has dominated the series. The Tide are 76-18-3 all-time against MSU and have won 10 of the last 12 matchups.
Nick Saban’s squad has won five straight in the series by a combined score of 155-34 en route to winning three of the last four national championships.
Alabama’s success on the field is a direct result of how well it has been able to recruit. The Tide has boasted the nation’s top recruiting class in five of the last six years according to Rivals.com and their 2014 class is currently ranked at No. 1.
“They’re deep,” Mullen said. “They’ve got five-star players as back-ups sitting on the bench and not getting tons of reps. They’ve got talent at every position.”
Alabama’s offense is loaded with weapons from veteran quarterback A.J. McCarron, sophomore tailbacks T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake and a full allotment of talented wideouts and tight ends.
The Crimson Tide average 452.7 yards on offense and 49 points per game.
“It’s not that they don’t have talent to spread it out and throw it anytime they want with all the talent they have at receiver and a great fifth-year senior quarterback,” Mullen said. “But just within their style, it’s going to be a much more physical game.”