Nick Saban and Alabama are coming off a 24-10 win against then-No. 15-ranked Ole Miss. Now, according to Saban, Alabama has to turn around and play the better team that participates in the Egg Bowl, Mississippi State.
On Monday, Saban surprised some when he mentioned that Mississippi State would be the toughest opponent for the Crimson Tide since their Week 2 matchup against Texas. Thursday, he reaffirmed that statement while appearing on "The Pat McAfee Show."
"This team, really to me, is better than all the teams that we've played so far except Texas," Saban said, "in terms of the caliber of players, how they play, how tough they are, how physical they play."
Heading into the fifth week of the season, Mississippi State is 10th or worse in the SEC in all the major offensive and defensive team categories while owning an 0-2 record in the SEC so far this season. However, Saban expressed admiration for the defensive pressure under new head coach Zach Arnett.
"This team is a pressure team on defense," Saban said. "They're pressuring all the time. They blitz all the time. They've got a lot of different looks. They do a lot of different things. So execution becomes even more important because they're gonna try to give you bad plays, you've gotta minimize that, and then you've gotta take advantage of explosive plays when you get the opportunity to do it."
Saturday, Alabama will travel to Starkville, Miss. to face their toughest test of the season since Texas. The game against Mississippi State will be the first SEC road game for the Crimson Tide and should be a hostile environment with a late 8 p.m. kick and a stadium full of cowbells.
"We're playing an SEC game on the road in a tough place to play, so this is not anything that requires any kind of a mental letdown," Saban told McAfee and company. "This is a build on the second half of what we did last week and understand why we did it and be able to continue to do it and not get frustrated in this game because of what might happen."
"Because they're gonna create some plays, but we can't get frustrated. We've got to keep playing the next play. We've got to play for 60 minutes. That's what it's gonna take in this game because they're a physical team. They're a good team. I mean, the South Carolina game, they turned the ball over a couple times down in the red zone or that's a different game."
Saban often uses the media to get his message across to his players. It's clear that this week's message is to not take this Mississippi State team lightly.
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