Football preview: Top-ranked Crimson Tide awaits Mississippi State; Auburn travels to Georgia

Football preview: Top-ranked Crimson Tide awaits Mississippi State; Auburn travels to Georgia
Kamryn Pettway (36) carries the ball for Auburn against Vanderbilt. Pettway's injury in that game leaves him uncertain to play in this weekend's face-off with the Georgia Bulldogs. (Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics)

Alabama defeated a tough LSU squad last week and remained the top team in the College Football Playoff rankings released this week.

After last week's big shutout win over LSU, Alabama heads into another SEC matchup with Mississippi State. (Alabama Athletics)
After last week’s big shutout win over LSU, Alabama heads into another SEC matchup with Mississippi State. (Alabama Athletics)

But the Crimson Tide can’t exhale yet, Nick Saban warned in his weekly press conference before facing Mississippi State at 11 a.m. Saturday on ESPN.

“We can’t have a kind of relief syndrome after a big, emotional game, especially when you have a really good team coming up and a new challenge,” Saban said.

All eyes are on an eventual Iron Bowl meeting on Nov. 26 between Alabama and Auburn, the No. 9 team in the CFP ranking.

Auburn’s Carl Lawson (55) makes his presence felt during last weekend’s game with Vanderbilt. (Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics)

The Tigers head to Athens this week to face Georgia at 2:30 p.m. on CBS. Coach Gus Malzahn acknowledged that Auburn hasn’t had great success against the Bulldogs during recent road trips.

Sean White, who sat out the first half against Vanderbilt, is set to start at quarterback. Running back Kamryn Pettway, who leads the Southeastern Conference in rushing, pulled up with an injury on a near game-sealing run against the Commodores.

Malzahn said the Auburn running game will be fine even if his top rusher is out of the lineup.

“We’re not ruling out Pettway yet,” he said. “We wouldn’t be surprised if he plays. At the same time, we have other guys who will be ready to go.”

OTHER STATE SCHOOLS

Virginia State at Tuskegee: The Golden Tigers were pushed to the edge last week before pulling out a 13-10 victory over Miles. Because of that win, they remained 14th in the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll. Tuskegee (8-1) is one of five teams from Super Region 2 ranked in the top 25 this week, trailing only North Alabama (seventh). Kickoff Saturday is at noon.

The Tuskegee Golden Tigers are 8-1 and ranked 14th going into Saturday’s game with Virginia State. (Tuskegee Athletics)

Jacksonville State at Murray State: The Gamecocks are second in both the STATS and Coaches FCS polls for the fourth straight week. JSU (8-1, 5-0 Ohio Valley Conference) received 19 first-place votes in the STATS FCS Top 25 and two votes for the top spot in the FCS Coaches Poll. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. and the game can be seen on OVCDN.

North Alabama at Mississippi College: With the 2016 Gulf South Conference football title already secured, UNA turns its attention to nailing down the top seed in Super Region 2 of the NCAA Division II playoffs when it plays its regular-season finale at 2 p.m. North Alabama, 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the GSC, claimed an unprecedented fourth straight conference football championship with a 51-3 win over West Florida.

Malone at West Alabama: The Tigers (6-4, 6-2 Gulf South) close the regular season at 2 p.m.

Averett at Huntingdon: The Hawks (8-1) look to end the regular season with a six-game winning streak. Kickoff is at noon.

Mercer at Samford: The Bulldogs host homecoming and Senior Day with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff. Coach Chris Hatcher’s team (6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Southern Conference) is ranked 21st in the FCS Coaches Poll, and 22nd in the STATS FCS Poll. The Bulldogs are coming off a 37-34 overtime loss at The Citadel.

Alabama A&M at Jackson State: The Bulldogs (3-6, 3-5 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) kick off at 2 p.m.

Alabama State at Grambling State: Coming off their 14-7 win over Jackson State, the Hornets are 3-6 overall and 3-5 in the SWAC. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.

Appalachian State at Troy: The Trojans are 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the Sun Belt Conference. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m., and the game can be seen on ESPN3.

Presbyterian at South Alabama: Kickoff is at 6 p.m. and this game is available on ESPN3. You can call this the “Jilted Bowl” because both schools were supposed to play SEC teams on Nov. 19 (Presbyterian at Florida and South Alabama at LSU) before Hurricane Matthew caused those schools to cancel in order to reschedule their own matchup.

HIGH SCHOOL PLAYOFFS

7A: Central-Phenix City takes on Auburn. Central was No. 4 in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association ranking of the regular season.

6A: No. 7 Park Crossing squares off with Bessemer City.

5A: No. 9 Briarwood Christian hosts Russellville.

4A: St. James hosts Tallassee.

3A: No. 6 Montevallo travels to No. 3 Mobile Christian.

2A: West End welcomes No. 5 Lanett to Walnut Grove.

1A: Brantley heads to No. 1 Maplesville.

AISA: Lee-Scott is at No. 2 Bessemer Academy, which beat Lee-Scott 18-17 on the road in Week 7.

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