TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — No. 1 Alabama simply dispatched its largest department challenger, and now faces its closest rival.

Geographically, no less than.

The Crimson Tide (Nine-Zero, 6-Zero Southeastern Conference, No. 1 CFP) hosts No. 18 Mississippi State (6-Three, 2-Three) Saturday looking to prolong a 10-game profitable streak over the West Division rival from about 90 mins down the street.

Alabama is a 24-1/2-point favourite after a 29-Zero win over No. Nine LSU in what used to be presumed to be the most important common season take a look at. That win secured a place in opposition to No. five Georgia within the SEC championship sport on Dec. 1.

Tide gamers are nonetheless discovering tactics to encourage themselves although the staff’s doubters are not precisely a large number of.

“They said we haven’t played anybody and that our offense and defense were very suspect,” tight finish Irv Smith Jr. stated. “We wanted to go out there and show everybody what we were capable of doing.”

Smith’s conclusion after the Baton Rouge beatdown: “Offensively and defensively I feel like nobody can stop us in the country.”

But the Bulldogs, led by way of quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, are sport to check out. The SEC’s top-rated total, scoring and go protection will get a shot at what no person else has been in a position to do: Contain Alabama’s Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Mississippi State has allowed most effective 9 touchdowns , fewest within the country, and ranks 2d permitting simply 12.Three issues in line with sport.

The Bulldogs offense, regardless that, has most effective crowned 10 issues two times in that decade-long shedding streak to the Tide, together with remaining yr’s 31-24 defeat.

“We talk all the time here in our building and with our kids about the term ‘Championship Standard’ and, quite frankly, this is what we are chasing,” stated Bulldogs trainer Joe Moorhead, going through the Tide for the primary time.

“Alabama is the gold standard in this league. I told the team (Sunday) night, no one falls to the top of the mountain. These guys have worked their tails off and earned the right to be there. It is our job to go out there and try to knock them off.”

Here are every other issues to observe within the Mississippi State-Alabama sport:

HOME STREAK

The Tide has gained 23 consecutive video games at house and may just fit the varsity document set from 1971-74 at Legion Field and Bryant-Denny.

MISSISSIPPI STATE VS NO. 1:

The Bulldogs have performed the No. 1 staff within the nation 8 instances, and 7 of the ones video games had been in opposition to the Tide. The different used to be in opposition to Florida in 2009. Mississippi State’s lone win in opposition to the highest staff got here on Nov. 1, 1980, when the Bulldogs beat Alabama 6-Three in Jackson. The closest Mississippi State has come to knocking off No. 1 since that sport used to be remaining season, when Alabama edged the Bulldogs 31-24 in Starkville.

BALL SECURITY:

Mississippi State is the one staff within the Football Bowl Subdivision that hasn’t misplaced a fumble this yr. It’s a streak that incorporates 344 dashing makes an attempt. Fitzgerald has misplaced a fumble most effective 3 times in his profession and all 3 got here in 2016. Since then, he is had 458 carries with out a misplaced fumble.

TAGOVAILOA VS. FITZGERALD

They’re two very other quarterbacks however each are unhealthy. Tagovailoa is among the country’s height passers with 27 touchdowns and only one interception (coming in opposition to LSU). He did run for a 44-yard landing in that sport regardless of a gimpy proper knee, however principally makes performs together with his left arm.

Fitzgerald is the SEC’s all-time profession chief in yards dashing for a quarterback and ranks 2d within the league total with 104.Nine yards in line with sport.

“He’s got a great arm and he’s a very effective passer when he needs to be,” Alabama trainer Nick Saban stated. “This guy’s got to be one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.”

DEFENSIVE LINE STARS

This sport will function one of the vital SEC’s height defensive linemen, from Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, Raekwon Davis and Isaiah Buggs to Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons.

Sweat is 2d within the league with Nine.five sacks and Buggs is correct at the back of at Nine.Zero. Williams has emerged as one of the most Tide’s largest stars in his first season as a starter.

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AP Sports Writer David Brandt in Starkville, Mississippi, contributed to this file.

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