But Dan Mullen said, truth be told, he doesn’t treat No .1 Alabama much differently than he does anyone else.
Mississippi State’s head coach says if they practice well, they’ll likely play well.
However, he does recognize the challenge in front of him as the Bulldogs face the defending National Champion Crimson Tide.
“They don’t make many mistakes,” Mullen said. “They don’t turn the ball over.”
In fact, while MSU is tops in the country in turnover margin, ‘Bama is right on their tail at No. 2 nationally.
In addition to protecting the ball, Mullen said the overwhelming depth of Alabama’s roster is one of their strongest suits and what helps them continue to win despite frequently losing stars to the NFL.
He thinks his team is good, too, of course, but Mullen said Alabama’s program is what he hopes MSU can become.
“They can go to Alaska and everybody wants to talk to them,” Mullen said about Alabama’s ability to recruit four and five-star athletes nationwide.
Naturally, those across the country in college football are familiar with the type of program, perhaps one of the reasons the Tide are so heavily-favored hosting MSU this weekend.
Both teams are undefeated both as a whole and within SEC play, but one is first in the country, while the team 90 miles west is 11, 12 or 13, depending on which poll you prefer.
It would be easy for the Bulldogs to feel disrespected, but Mullen said the same thing senior linebacker Cam Lawrence tweeted.
“Our guys respect themselves and respect each other,” Mullen said. “That’s really the only respect you need as a football team.”
On the other hand, Mullen does have plenty of respect for Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, who has entered the Heisman discussion with his efficient and impressive play this year.
While others had more hype pre-season, McCarron has become one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC.
“Statistically, he’s the best we’ve seen so far,” Mullen said.
What’s made McCarron so effective, Mullen said, is that he never gets flustered. MSU’s head coach said quarterbacks often move too fast and make mistakes on plays after getting sacked, being hurried or having a play break down.
At Alabama, those situations rarely occur.
“He does a good job of not doing it. He doesn’t force balls into bad situations,” Mullen said. “You have to get them flustered, which they haven’t been this year.”
Mullen did offer an update on injuries, with the news there being there is no news. MSU is as healthy as they’ve been all year, and most everyone is expected to play on Saturday, including offensive lineman Tobias Smith and tight end Malcolm Johnson.