For the first time since the middle of October, top ranked Alabama returns to campus for Saturday's 2:30 PM contest against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Last season, the Tide scored two fourth quarter touchdowns including Jalen Hurts' 26-yard scoring strike to Devonta Smith with 25 seconds left in the game to pull out a 31-24 victory in Starkville.

Heading into Saturday afternoon, Alabama holds an 82-17-3 series lead (on the field) over Mississippi State which includes a 10-game winning streak dating back to 2008.

Prior to Saturday's 2:30 PM kickoff, check out the three things you need to know about Mississippi State.

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One of College Football's Stingiest Defenses

Last week, Alabama faced a highly heralded defense from LSU but will face a defense just as good if not better than the one the Crimson Tide faced last week.

The Bulldogs lead the Southeastern Conference in 11 categories and are tied for second in the Football Bowl Subdivision allowing just 12.3 points per game.

Mississippi State's defense defensive unit clamps down even more in the red zone. The Bulldogs are college football's top red zone defense surrendering just five red zone touchdowns while opposing offenses score touchdowns at a rate of 21.7 percent inside the 20-yard line.

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Stout Defensive Line Duo

To give yourself a chance to win, you have to posses the players to execute game changing plays.

For Mississippi State, it begins with defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and defensive end Montez Sweat. The Maxwell Football Club named both individuals as semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award presented to college football's defensive player of the year.

After leading the SEC with 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 2017, Montez Sweat is second in the conference with 9.5 sacks and sacks per game (1.06 sacks per game).

Sweat's partner in crime, Jeffery Simmons is tied for second in the SEC and sixth in the conference among defensive lineman with 9.5 tackles for loss. The junior defensive lineman is also second among defensive lineman in the SEC with 42 tackles.

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Ball Security

For Mississippi State to have a chance to pull of a shocking upset in Tuscaloosa, taking care of the football will be a critical key to victory.

So far this season, the Bulldogs offense has done a rock solid job of holding on to the football. While quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has thrown seven interceptions on the season, the running game has not lost a fumble in 344 rushing attempts this season. They are the only team not to lose a fumble in the FBS in 2018.

For Fitzgerald, he has lost only three fumbles in 535 career carries. His prior lost fumble came against Auburn in 2016.