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Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald will try to earn the Bulldogs' first win over Alabama since 2007.

2017 Alabama football opponent preview and prediction: Mississippi State

Counting down to the start of Alabama’s football season, SEC Country is previewing the Crimson Tide’s 2017 opponents.

Alabama vs. Mississippi State

  • When: Saturday, Nov. 11
  • Kickoff time: TBA
  • Where: Davis-Wade Stadium, Starkville, Miss.
  • TV: TBA
  • Last meeting: Alabama defeated Mississippi State 51-3 on Nov. 12, 2016

Mississippi State at a glance

  • Coach: Dan Mullen
  • 2016 record: 6-7, 3-5 SEC

Mississippi State players to watch

Nick Fitzgerald | QB

Many pundits say Nick Fitzgerald is the best returning quarterback in the SEC. He led the conference with 16 rushing touchdowns to go with 1,375 rushing yards, which was second to LSU’s Derrius Guice.

He also threw for 2,423 yards and 21 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

Fitzgerald rushed for more than 100 yards eight times last season, an SEC record by a quarterback. His 7.1 yards per rush was also the highest of any SEC signal caller in history. Fitzgerald led the nation in 300-yard passing/100-yard rushing performances, and became the first SEC quarterback to do it three times in a season since Heisman winner Johnny Manziel in 2012.

Aeris Williams | RB

Williams exploded during the latter half of 2016, rushing for more than 100 yards in SEC West matchups against Texas A&M and Ole Miss. He averaged 112.5 yards per game in the month of November, which was the fifth-best mark in the SEC last season.

Williams had the best game of his career against in-state rival Ole Miss, rushing for 191 yards and his first multi-touchdown performance. Williams and Fitzgerald combined to rush for 449 yards en route to the largest margin of victory in the annual Egg Bowl since 1916.

Martinas Rankin | OL

Rankin can play all line positions, but saw all of his action in 2016 at tackle. Rankin came to MSU as the nation’s top-rated junior college offensive lineman in 2015, but redshirted during his first year on campus. He earned 10 starts last season and played in all 13 of the Bulldogs’ games in 2016.

Rankin was MSU’s most dominant offensive lineman last season, playing a total of 857 snaps.

Our take

In 2014, when Mississippi State came to Tuscaloosa ranked No. 1 in the nation, the Bulldogs put up a tough fight led by then-quarterback Dak Prescott. It ended in a 25-20 loss to Alabama.

Outside of that contest, Mississippi State has scored 10 points once during Alabama’s nine-game winning streak in this series.

Mississippi State squeaked out a 17-12 win in Nick Saban’s first year as Alabama’s coach in 2007, and the Tide has been getting revenge since.

Alabama football has outscored Mississippi State 282-70 since 2008 when the streak began.

Dan Mullen is arguably the second-best coach in the SEC. Fitzgerald is arguably the best quarterback in the SEC. Those two alone aren’t enough to defeat Alabama.

Prediction

Alabama 34, Mississippi State 10

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