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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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SEC Saturday Night Football Mississippi State Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide: Start Time, Odds, Free Pick

It's an SEC showdown in prime time tonight as the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide welcome in the 12th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs. The game is scheduled for a 8:30 pm start time and it will be televised nationally on ESPN. Currently the odds for the game have Alabama favored by 23 points.

Alabama is favored by a whole bunch in this game today because oddsmakers don't believe anyone can even come close to the Crimson Tide. They're at home, where the Tide are a dominant team, but overall Alabama is only 4-3 against the number in their seven wins this season. Mississippi State might be the best team Alabama has seen so far.

The Crimson Tide defense is flat out amazing. They only give up 8 points per game this season and allow teams to just 59 rushing yards per game. It's not like teams can throw it over Alabama either, as the Tide allow just 137 yards per game through the air. That's an average of just 3.4 yards per play for the opposition. Just absolutely swarming.

Miss State isn't a terrible team — they are ranked near the Top 10 for a reason. The Bulldogs can score points, averaging 37 per game this season, and they like to be a balanced club. They average more than 180 yards per game on the ground this season and 230+ through the air. That's good enough for 6.1 yards per play this season, which is seemingly getting it done. They're 7-0, just like Alabama, but they've covered the number in five of the seven games. A total of 23 points seems like too many in this game tonight.

Alabama has won nine of the last 11 meetings in this series and has won four straight overall over the Bulldogs by a combined score of 117-27. Talk about dominance. Last year Bama won 24-7 on the road. Both teams are amazing in the turnover department, but Mississippi State is the best in the country at +17 so far this year. Alabama is good as well at +14.

The Bulldogs have covered in three straight games and have averaged 37.7 points per game in those contests.

A.J. McCarron hasn't thrown an interception yet for the Crimson Tide, but he's going to see arguably the best secondary in the country in tonight's game. He leads the FBS in passing efficiency with 69-percent completions with 16 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a 9.6 yards per attempt. That's moving the ball downfield in a methodical way.

Alabama has gone 6-0 in October games in the last two years and they are focused and ready for another national championship run. We think they are the best team in the country but the Bulldogs are no slouch. Miss State can score points and they will put the Alabama defense to the test with that offense. We're expecting a hard fought game in this one tonight, but in the end we like Bama to pick up the win. However, we think the Bulldogs cover the spread.

Free Pick: Alabama 31, Miss State 23

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