Alabama week is one the Mississippi State Bulldogs have had circled for a long time.
MSU if it took care of business then a battle of unbeatens on Oct 27 was a distinct possibility.
Now, the Bulldogs are a perfect 7-0 as are the Crimson Tide. The winner of Saturday's matchup in Tuscaloosa, Ala., earns the top spot in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division.
“It should be a great challenge for us, playing a team that doesn’t show a lot of weaknesses," MSU football coach Dan Mullen said Monday at his weekly press conference. (Alabama is) very good, very well-coached, very disciplined, (and) filled with talent at every position across the board.
"They have I think the top recruiting class each of the last four years, five years, so everybody on their roster is a four- or five-star prospect for the most part, and they get those guys in position to make plays.”
The Bulldogs enter the matchup as the 11th ranked team in the Bowl Championship Series standings leaving some to consider Mississippi State as unproven.
“What people outside our building say about us is their opinion,” Mullen said. “We have to worry about what we think about each other inside. Our guys have a lot of respect for the leaders on our team. They respect how everybody on the team works, and they respect each other and they respect our program, so they give great effort in those regards because of those things. That’s really all that matters.”
In the weeks leading up to this point, State was challenged to correct a few things. The Bulldogs struggled with playing complete games after starting fast and taking their foot off the accelerator. They seemingly had a lack of focus once the team felt the game was in hand. However, against Tennessee and Middle Tennessee State the team seemed to put things together.
“We’re executing at a little bit higher level maybe than we have in some of those other games," Mullen said. "We’re not making the mistakes that really kill drives. That’s why we've been able to score. When you look, even last weekend, the two drives in the first half we don’t get points, we have a penalty, and then we have a guy go the wrong way, tthen the next drive we have a turnover. Those errors kill you on drives that have really slowed us down. The last couple of weeks we’ve kind of eliminated a lot of that stuff.”
Despite improvements, Mullen knows his team must continue to take a step forward if the Bulldogs want to stay on the field with the nation’s most dominant team.
“It should be a great challenge for our guys," Mullen said. "We’re going to have to play our best game of the year. Obviously going into a hostile environment, it will be a big challenge for us. Our guys should be ready to roll.”