In the last three weeks, Mississippi State has beaten No. 8 LSU, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 2 Auburn. As a result, the Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0) have overtaken Florida State (6-0, 4-0) for the top spot in this week’s AP Poll.
Just one question, though: Did they do enough to deserve that?
In a word, yes.
“They got the best resume in America,” SEC Network analyst Booger McFarland said on The Morning Show. “At the time of the game, they had beaten three top-10 teams in America. That’s better than Florida State. That’s better than anybody else. (Based on their resume), they’ve done enough to be the No. 1 team in the country.”
But how has this happened? After all, Mississippi State entered the season unranked. Why didn’t we see this coming?
“Well, the way they’re winning, they’re doing it with an offensive and defensive line that’s really, really good,” McFarland said. “They’re physically dominating the line of scrimmage. They’re playing better than anybody else upfront. And Dak Prescott, right now, is making more plays in the clutch than anyone.”
Prescott, a junior, has thrown for 200+ yards and rushed for 100+ yards in four straight games.
“He’s the leading Heisman candidate right now because he’s making the plays when it counts, and he’s putting his team on his back,” McFarland said. “He’s carrying the Mississippi State Bulldogs.”
Mississippi State is off this week and plays at Kentucky (5-1, 2-1) on Oct. 25
Elsewhere in the SEC, No. 7 Alabama (5-1, 2-1) narrowly avoided a second straight loss, surviving Arkansas, 14-13, thanks to a blocked extra point. The Tide have now looked shaky in back-to-back weeks.
“I think Alabama is missing something,” McFarland said. “Not talent, but it’s leadership. Everyone kind of pushed to the side what AJ McCarron said about the leadership and about the rift that may be growing between (Lane) Kiffin and (Nick) Saban. But if you look at the game on Saturday, you saw a team that didn’t have any leadership on the field (and) wasn’t holding anybody accountable. You see the same mistakes with Alabama in the special teams. They continue to be awful from a special teams standpoint.”
In fact, the Tide rank outside the top 100 in special teams efficiency. But offense may be the team’s biggest issue – not in terms of production (Alabama ranks 28th in passing offense and 31st in rushing offense), but rather, philosophy. Saban wants to be physical, run the ball and play defense, whereas Kiffin wants to create mismatches and chuck it deep to Amari Cooper.
“To me, that’s where the two are butting heads,” McFarland said. “To me, it’s a team void of leadership. They’re not making the plays in the small areas. I’m going to pay close attention to what’s going on between Saban and Kiffin. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen anybody I’ve been fond of that I treat that way. The way (Saban) talks to (Kiffin), to me, it screams, ‘I really don’t like you, but I got to deal with you.’ This is a very interesting situation to pay attention to the rest of the season.”Comments