According to Google Maps, there are 83.8 miles between Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville and Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium.
But for Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, it must feel like light years.
Alabama has claimed three of the last four national championships and has finished No. 1 in recruiting in five of the last six classes.
The Crimson Tide are able to continuously sell out a 101,821-seat stadium – which is nearly double the size State’s largest crowd.
Is there that much difference in the culture roughly an hour and a half east of Starkville down Highway 82? After all, only two counties and a state line are all that separate the two schools geographically.
Fifteen national championships, 55 consensus All-Americans, 60 bowl appearances, 34 bowl victories and 23 SEC championships are on the Crimson Tide’s resume.
In stark contrast, MSU has zero national titles, three consensus All-Americans, 16 bowl bids, nine bowl wins and one SEC championship.
While this current string of success might be the best Bama dynasty ever, it’s not the first time the Tide has dominated on a consistent basis. You can argue the validity of Alabama’s 15 national championships all you want but you can’t deny they have been one of the elite programs in college football history.
The Bulldogs have only played the top-ranked team five times previously, and four of those meetings were against Alabama.
Of course many MSU fans will point to the 6-3 win over the Tide in 1980, which many consider the top win in the program’s history. I was born the following year and did not see a Bulldogs victory over Alabama until 1996 when I was 15.
Remember those two counties I mentioned earlier? I was born and raised in one (Lowndes) and went to high school in the other (Pickens), so I have been stuck in the middle of this twin state “rivalry” my entire life.
I have friends and family who are fans on both sides and have even had one of my best friends work under both Mullen and Nick Saban recently. I’ve covered the last seven MSU-Alabama games and watched the Bulldogs win in 2006-07. I’ve also seen the Tide dominate the last five years by a combined score of 155-34.
Mullen is 0-4 against Alabama, and in all likelihood that trend continues Saturday night. But the great thing about college football is that it will be decided on the field. I doubt many in 1980 gave the Bulldogs much of a chance, either.
And if Mullen can somehow pull off a miracle upset like that, it would be something that begins to shorten the distance between the two programs dramatically.
Logan Lowery (logan.lowery @journalinc.com) covers MSU for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at insidemsusports.com.