It has been a challenging season at Mississippi State. And it’s about to get more challenging with No. 1 Alabama invading Starkville for a 6:45 p.m. game this Saturday.
“Alabama is a team that leads the nation in just about everything,” Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said.
Certainly, the Crimson Tide has a firm grip on national championships – two straight and in position to go play for a third. They are first in points against (10.6) and they are 13th in points for (40.9). Do the math – there’s a lot of space between those two numbers.
Redshirt senior quarterback A.J. McCarron might be the most underrated QB with three national championship rings, the last two with him calling the signals. And then there’s the depth, depth that a coach such as Mullen can only dream about.
“They have five-star players as backups,” he said. “They have five-star players sitting on the bench not getting tons of reps. They have talent at every position.”
As for what Alabama coach Nick Saban could say about the Bulldogs: “Mississippi State probably has a very good team to have five losses to teams rated in the top 20, and playing very competitively in every one of those games.”
SEC Best and Worst Selected Categories:
Scoring offense: 1. Texas A&M (49.2 points per game). 14. Arkansas (20.4)
Rushing offense: 1. Auburn (320 yards per game). 14. Vanderbilt (139.8)
Scoring defense: 1. Alabama (10.6 points per game). 14. Tennessee (32.0)
Rushing defense: 1. Alabama (95.3 yards per game). 14. Tennessee (225.9)
Turnover margin: 1. Missouri (+14). 14. Arkansas (-8)
Third down conversion rate: 1 LSU (57.7 percent). 14 Kentucky (29.3).
The University of Memphis (2-6, 0-4 in American Athletic Conference play) goes to South Florida for a 6 p.m. kickoff Saturday. The Bulls are 2-6 and 2-4.
Memphis is allowing 82.9 penalty yards per game – 125th and last among FBS schools. Asked about this at his weekly press luncheon, Tigers coach Justin Fuente said: “First of all, I think it’s unfair to just point a finger at the kids. I think we have to do a great job as a coaching staff – self-evaluation, our emphasis, and the way we’re going about it. And we have done that.”
Punter Tom Hornsey is a Ray Guy Award semifinalist and an All-American candidate; the Tigers’ team net punting average of 42.49 is first in the FBS rankings. Hornsey’s 45.2 yards per punt average ranks seventh nationally.
This season, Hornsey has dropped 17 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Quarterback Paxton Lynch’s passing rating of 114.43 ranks 97th in the country.
Defensive end Martin Ifedi has 8.5 sacks, tied for eighth nationally.