Mississippi State doesn’t need to ring those cowbells to get Alabama’s attention as Nick Saban has made that clear this week. However, Steve Spurrier knows how the Bulldogs can take it a step further and pull off the upset.
Although the Crimson Tide are installed as a two-touchdown favorite against the No. 16 Bulldogs, Alabama comes in with a defense impacted by injuries. That’s not good when facing a quarterback like Nick Fitzgerald.
Speaking with former Alabama QB Greg McElroy on Thursday morning, Spurrier reminisced on how his 2010 Gamecocks squad managed to take down McElroy’s top-ranked team. He also offered up a key for teams in Mississippi State’s position to do the unthinkable.
— ESPNU Radio on SXM (@ESPNUonSiriusXM) November 9, 2017
“When you’re a huge underdog, to me, you should take some chances,” Spurrier said. “[Former South Carolina RB Marcus] Lattimore made a fourth-and-half-a-yard at midfield in the fourth quarter, and so we were able to stay on the field and burn another two-and-a-half minutes.
“… But we only punted I think once in that game. It might have been twice, one at the end there, and we were on the field a lot, so your offense is over there watching a whole bunch that game, and that’s how you have upsets … If Mississippi State is going to beat Alabama, they got to stay on the field. They can’t go three and out, three and out, three and out. You got to stay out there and make first downs, give your defense some rest.”
The Head Ball Coach has a good memory as South Carolina punter Spencer Lanning did, in fact, only punt twice that game. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks had 20 first downs, converting 6-of-11 third downs and 2-of-2 fourth downs.
Dan Mullen’s offense has shown promise in that regard, ranking second only to Georgia in the SEC in time of possession and second only to Alabama in first downs per game (23.1).
Of course, Spurrier acknowledged this is easier said than done against a Saban-coached team, even with the injuries Alabama is dealing with defensively.
Alabama and Mississippi State kick off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.