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November 13, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott believes he's a much better quarterback than at this time a year ago.

For the Bulldogs, the upcoming game would be a good time to prove it.

No. 20 Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference; No. 17 CFP) hosts No. 3 Alabama (8-1, 5-1; No. 2 CFP) on Saturday in a game with Western Division implications for both teams.

Prescott has a 21-8 record as a starter and played a critical role in wins over every team in the division at least once in his career.

Except against Alabama.

The Bulldogs were the No. 1 team in the nation last season when they fell 25-20 to the Tide in Tuscaloosa. Prescott said he learned from that experience.

''I think I'm better in every aspect of the quarterback position,'' Prescott said. ''Game planning more so than anything - watching tendencies of their defensive backs, putting a clock in my head of when to get the ball out and getting our team the best looks on certain plays with the defenses they give us.''

Mississippi State certainly asks Prescott to do a lot. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior has thrown for 2,351 yards, 18 touchdowns and just one interception. He's also the team's best option to run the ball with 418 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.

The Bulldogs hope Alabama is a little beat up physically and emotionally following a 30-16 win over fellow SEC power LSU last weekend.

Alabama coach Nick Saban is working to prevent a letdown.

''Everybody's got to focus and get prepared to do the best job to play even better in (the Mississippi State) game,'' Saban said.

Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland said the Tide's new spot atop the Western Division has helped refine the team's focus.

''Since you control your own destiny you have to keep getting better and worry about yourself,'' Ragland said.

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Here are some things to watch when No. 20 Mississippi State hosts No. 3 Alabama:

DAK PRESCOTT'S TWILIGHT: Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott is playing the final games of what's been a very impressive college career. He needs just 66 yards passing on Saturday to become the 12th player in Football Bowl Subdivision history with 8,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing. He's also been responsible for 100 touchdowns which is a school-record and the sixth most in SEC history.

RISING DE'RUNNYA: Mississippi State's De'Runnya Wilson had a slow start to the season, but has had two of his best games over the past two weeks. He caught four passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns on Nov. 5 in a 31-13 win over Missouri. Wilson has caught at least one touchdown pass in four straight games, which is the most for an MSU player since 2012.

DOMINANT DERRICK: Alabama running back Derrick Henry has had an outstanding season - especially against quality competition. In five games against nationally-ranked teams, the 6-foot-3, 242-pounder has averaged 173.6 yards per game, including 236 yards rushing against Texas A&M and 210 in last week's victory over LSU.

LET'S PLAY 100: Alabama and Mississippi State will meet for the 100th time on Saturday in a series that dates back to 1896. Alabama has been dominant in the series, with 78 or 79 wins in the series depending on which school you ask. Alabama has won seven straight in the series, including the past three in Starkville.

BIG FOOT: If the game comes down to a last-second field goal, Alabama will feel good if it has its kicker of the field. Adam Griffith booted a 55-yard field goal in last week's win over LSU, which was tied for second longest in school history. Griffith has made his last eight field goal attempts and has made all 35 extra point attempts this season.

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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