If Bama fans thought LSU’s Leonard Fournette was scary, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott is a nightmare leading up to this week’s Top-20 matchup in Starkville.
The highly-touted Alabama defense held Heisman-hopeful Fournette — averaging a monstrous 193 yards per game before entering Bryant-Denny Stadium — to a total of just 31 yards, leading to a statement win that secured the number two spot in the College Football Playoff Rankings for the Tide.
Prescott, however, poses an entirely different threat to Alabama’s playoff hopes. Whereas LSU’s dependency on Fournette’s physical running played into the Tide’s primary strength, Prescott’s abilities could easily exploit Alabama’s most glaring weaknesses.
First and foremost, Prescott is talented in all the right ways. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who not only leads the No. 20 Bulldogs with 418 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, but he’s also deadly accurate through the air, only tossing one interception en route to 18 passing touchdowns so far this season.
Dual-threat quarterbacks cause problems for Kirby Smart’s otherwise formidable defense. Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel wreaked havoc on the Tide, and Prescott is clearly cut from the same block.
While Alabama’s front seven lead the SEC in sacks with 29 this season, it’ll come down to the suspect secondary — which has been known to either give up explosive plays downfield or hone in on the receiver and get flagged for pass interference — to keep Mississippi State’s 6-foot-5-inch De’Runnya Wilson in check.
Last November, Wilson caught eight passes for 91 yards, but never reached the end zone in Tuscaloosa. If Prescott is able to scramble and extend more plays this time around, defending Wilson could prove even more difficult.
Not only is Prescott talented, but he’s more motivated than ever.
In his career at MSU, the Bulldogs’ fifth-year quarterback owns 36 school records but has never beaten Alabama. (The past seven Alabama vs Mississippi State matchups have ended in Tide victories)
To make matters worse, Prescott’s Heisman campaign was derailed last year in Tuscaloosa when he threw a career-high three interceptions. He’ll be looking to avenge the 20-25 loss and possibly have his own Manziel-esque Heisman moment this year — the 100th meeting of the two programs and his last chance before he graduates — in front of a raucous home crowd to the tune of thousands of cowbells.