Mississippi State (7-2) has the big challenge of hosting top-ranked Alabama this weekend.

MSU struggled to beat Massachusetts last weekend while Alabama was whipping LSU. The Bulldogs have a topnotch quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald and a talented running back in Aeris Williams plus a smothering defense, but will it be enough to tame the Tide?

 Fitzgerald has joined elite SEC company as he has run for 31 career touchdowns and passed for 30 more. He joins the likes of Dak, Tebow, and Manziell. State is 5-0 this season at home and has won four of those games by at least 25 points. Game time is 6 p.m. and ESPN will televise the contest.

There is talk around the SEC centers about possible head coaching openings in Oxford, Knoxville, College Station, Gainesville and maybe even Starkville. Dan Mullen is on the top of the list at Florida. Mullen’s MSU record is 69-44 overall, but his SEC record is only 32-37 entering this week’s game. Since Mullen arrived in Starkville, Florida has gone 72-40 overall and 45-25 in SEC play. Several questions will need to be answered in the coming weeks by Mullen. Does he have a better job right now? Another key question is what happens if the Bulldogs pull the upset against Alabama -- will more options besides Florida be available for Mullen?

Ole Miss (4-5) keeps battling, and last Saturday their persistence paid off. Quarterback Jordan Ta’ama drove the Rebels 71 yards in 14 plays in the final two minutes as he threw a 7-yard TD pass to D.K. Metcalf with five seconds to play to escape with a 37-34 road win in Lexington, Kentucky. Ta’ama passed for 382 yards and completed over 70 per cent of his passes on the day.

Ole Miss interim coach Matt Luke took over a mess, and his team could have given up after the heartbreaking loss to Arkansas, but in the end Luke and the Rebels found a way to win. Some Rebel faithful feel as though Ole Miss needs to clean house after the fallout from the aftermath of the Hugh Freeze ordeal.  Rumblings out of Oxford point eastward toward Alabama and their defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. The 43-year-old could be the next Rebel head coach. Pruitt has an impressive resume with four national championship rings.            

USM (5-4) played a sloppy game in their 24-10 loss to Tennessee. The Eagles had 14 penalties for 120 yards. The Eagles also had three turnovers in the game. Next up is Rice in Houston this week.

Georgia is 9-0 for the first time since 1982. The Bulldogs were surprisingly ranked as the top team in the college football playoffs’ (CFP) first poll of the season, ahead of Alabama. They will meet Bama in the SEC championship game in December.

Odds & Ends

The Houston Astros won a most exciting World Series over the L.A. Dodgers. The Astros benefited from three former Mississippi and Atlanta Braves in Brian McCann, Evan Gattis and Charlie Morton. Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood is also a former Brave.

Northwest and East Mississippi will play for the state JUCO football championship. Northwest downed Hinds, 27-13, while East Mississippi whipped Jones Junior College, 24-20.  JCJC (8-2) committed four turnovers in their loss. Former Oxford quarterback Jack Abraham leads Northwest.

Oklahoma out-pointed Oklahoma State, 62-52, in a wild shootout in Stillwater. The teams combined to throw 90 passes while Army blanked Air Force, 21-0, and did not attempt a pass.

Louisiana Tech lost to North Texas, 24-23, this past weekend. It was their fourth one-point loss of the season to go with an overtime loss to USM.

Dale McKee, a resident of Waynesboro, has covered Mississippi sports for more than 40 years. He writes a weekly sports column. You can contact Dale at ddmckee18@yahoo.com