Things You Can Always Count on at Alabama: Death, Taxes and Playing Mississippi State

Image courtesy of Jimmy Bank
J. Bank

When most Alabama fans talk about rivalries, they usually start with the Iron Bowl, the Third Saturday in October, or maybe even LSU, 

However, Alabama has played more games against the Southeastern Conference school that's closest geographically, Mississippi State, than any other opponent,

The two border rivals will be meeting for the 104th time this Saturday (11 a.m., ESPN). Mississippi State (103), Tennessee (102), Vanderbilt (84), LSU (84) and Auburn (83) are the only opponents the Crimson Tide has played at least 80 times. 

In addition, the Mississippi State game is the fifth-oldest series in the Alabama record books as the two teams first met in 1896. 

They've played every year since 1948. 

The Crimson Tide holds a huge edge in the series at 81-18-3, including the current 11-game winning streak that's had an average score of 30.6-8.5 (337-94 total). Most recently, the Crimson Tide defeated the Bulldogs, 24-0, in Tuscaloosa last season.  

Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant in 1961.
Alabama's 1961 coaching staff included four future head coaches.

The 1961 team won 24-0, one of four consecutive shutouts vs. the Bulldogs (1959-62). The game also was in the midst of a 22-game winning streak against the neighbors from Starkville.

Mississippi State still regularly shows highlights and celebrates upsetting No. 1 ranked Alabama, 6-3, on Nov. 1, 1980, at Mississippi Memorial Stadium in Jackson. That 6-3 win also snapped Alabama’s school and SEC-record 28-game winning streak. 

Alabama won the next 15 games in the series from 1981-95 before MSU ended the streak with a 17-16 win on Nov. 16, 1996, at Scott Field. The one-point win was the Bulldogs' first on-campus win over the Crimson Tide and first in the state of Mississippi since 1980.

One of more unusual aspects of the series is the teams have met in in eight different cities since the initial game on the Quad in Tuscaloosa in 1896.

 Tuscaloosa has hosted the most games in the series (54), with Alabama posting a 45-8-1 (44-9-1 NCAA) record on its campus. UA is also 6-2-1 all-time in Birmingham and 1-0 in Montgomery. 

The Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs have met 23 times in Starkville, where Alabama is 19-4 (18-4 NCAA). Four other Mississippi cities have played host, including Jackson (9-1), Meridian (2-0), Columbus (1-1-1) and Aberdeen (0-1).     

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is 16-1 in his career against Mississippi State, with his only loss coming in his first visit to Starkville as the Tide’s head coach in 2007. 

Saban is 11-1 against the Bulldogs in his first 12 years at Alabama, winning, 24-0, last season in Tuscaloosa. Prior to that victory, Saban and the Tide recorded a 31-24 victory in Starkville in 2017. 

Saban was 5-0 against Mississippi State while serving as head coach at LSU from 2000-04. The Tigers outscored the Bulldogs, 214-57, in those five games. Alabama has outscored MSU, 337-94 (30.6-8.5), in the last 10 games.