TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - College football fans don't have to wait until Alabama-LSU for a showdown of highly ranked, unbeaten SEC West teams.
No. 13 Mississippi State's surprising rise means that matchup comes two weeks early. The Bulldogs visit the top-ranked Crimson Tide Saturday night.
The winner controls its own destiny in the division two weeks before the rematch of the national title game.
Tide coach Nick Saban likens this point in the season to the final 30 yards of a 100-yard race with others "right on your heels."
It also figures to be the toughest stretch for a so far untested Alabama team. Next is a visit to No. 6 LSU and a game with No. 22 Texas A&M.
The Bulldogs are less accustomed to such high-stakes games this late in the season.