What the Mississippi State Will Tell Bama About Auburn & Georgia
By: Larry Burton
Alabama fans might just be surprised to learn that in the SEC, Mississippi State has a better rushing game than the vaunted running game everyone talks about at Auburn. The rankings in total rushing are Georgia, with 2514 yards, Alabama with 2506, Miss. State with 2334, then Auburn with 2130.
Therefore, one could summize that if Alabama throttles down the Bulldog rushing attack, it would stand to reason that they could do that to Auburn too. It will also tell them that they may can handle the other Bulldogs over in Georgia too.
Especially with all the substitutes at linebacker, should Alabama keep State from rushing, things will only get better when players start returning by the time they get to the Auburn and or Georgia game.
OK, so there’s that aspect of why this Saturday’s game between the Tide and the Bulldogs will be entertaining to watch, but there’s other things too.
Alabama fans might also be shocked to know that the Auburn defense they’ve heard so much about is actually behind State’s, but it’s close. Here are the top ranked teams in rush defense. First of course is Alabama allowing just 682 yards so far this season, then there’s Georgia, who has given up 801 yards, then State with 1117 and Auburn who has given up 1138.
Therefore you could assume that if Alabama can run on State this weekend, then it would be safe to assume that they could against Auburn too, who is about equal and then Georgia later.
There are some folks out there than think that these Bulldogs from Mississippi could actually be a harder test for Alabama than Auburn. I disagree for one big reason. Auburn has a guy who can actually pass the ball and they can therefore put forth a little more balance.
If you think Nick Fitzgerald is a notable quarterback, well he is, overall, but mainly because he’s a good rusher. But the truth is of the 14 teams in the SEC, Mississippi State is twelfth and what’s more shocking is that Georgia is dead last. Yes if you shut down the Bulldog brother’s running game, you have to question if either of those quarterbacks can pull out the game with their arm. So in that respect, if Alabama keeps the State running game in check and Fitzgerald can’t dent the Bama defense with his arm, it would be hard to believe Georgia, with a worse passing offense could do any better.
We’ve already told you that State comes in at 12 in passing offense and Georgia 14, maybe now you should know that Auburn comes in third in the conference in the passing category, far ahead of Alabama at number 7. So Auburn can give something for the secondary of the Crimson Tide to worry about while the others may not.
However, in total offensive yardage, rushing and passing combined, there is very little difference between Auburn at number three who averages 466 yards per game, Georgia at number five with a 445 yard average and State at number six with 428 yards per game. All three being so close in offensive output should tell the Alabama team, coaches and fans what they can expect as far as being defensively capable of shutting down Auburn and Georgia down the road after playing State.
As far as the Tide’s offense you may wonder? It is amazing that Georgia, State and Auburn are all so close in total defense. As you already know, Alabama leads the SEC in total defense, but right behind is Georgia, Mississippi State and Auburn in that order. So if Alabama should be able to score at will against State, you should summize that they could also do almost as well against Georgia and Auburn who gives up and average of just 19 more yards a game than State does.
Again, with the similarity on both sides of the ball, State, Auburn and Georgia are very similar indeed and this will be quite a crystal ball for us to see what could happen in the following contests against Auburn and Georgia.
What will be interesting to see is if the scores come out as similar as the statistics imply they will be. That is part of the wonder of college football, as things usually never wind up as they should and sometimes they do. So remember this article as Alabama plays these three teams and see if it pans out as the stats say they will.
Larry has been published in almost every media outlet for college sports and now primarily writes here for Touchdown Alabama. Follow Larry on Twitter for inside thoughts and game time comments at https://twitter.com/LBSportswriter