Alabama uses momentum, big plays in win over Mississippi State

By Zac Al-Khateeb

Days prior to the much-hyped Alabama-Mississippi State game, many thought the matchup had the potential to be a knock-down, drag-out fight to the finish.

It didn’t quite turn out that way, as the Crimson Tide rolled to a convincing 38-7 win at home, proving once again it deserves its moniker as the No. 1 team in the nation.

Alabama scored on its first three drives of the game, rolling to an early 21-0 lead shortly into the second quarter. The Tide offense continued its balanced offensive attack, as running back T.J. Yeldon gashed the Bulldogs defense for huge chunks of yards, running for 84 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, quarterback AJ McCarron began to heat up the Heisman talks with another efficient showing, passing for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, the Tide appeared as impassable as ever. The Tide defense held the Bulldogs scoreless until their final drive from among the second string. Alabama didn’t turn in many sacks on the night, but kept constant pressure on quarterback Tyler Russell, harassing, chasing and, more often than not, pounding him into the ground.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban praised his team’s attitude, and also noted how Alabama’s quick start provided a momentum boost for his team.

“You prepare yourself to fight a 15-round fight, and knowing that, you’re going to have to take the fight to them in the early rounds,” Saban said of his team’s fast start. “You can’t win
the fight in the first round, but you can certainly lose it.”

Despite the Tide’s mostly-dominant play, the Tide’s performance was far from perfect.

MSU quarterback Tyler Russell picked apart the Alabama secondary at times during the game, effectively moving the ball at will down the field.

On the other side of the ball, the offense didn’t manage another score until less than a minute to halftime, and was held scoreless in the third quarter.

“We’re going to have to continue to improve and learn from our experiences today, in terms of the good things that we did,” Saban said, “and also correct some of the things that we
didn’t do very well.”

Indeed, Alabama had to rely on numerous big plays to maintain its momentum in the game. On the Tide’s first drive, Alabama had to convert a fourth-and-one to keep the drive alive.
It ended with Alabama’s first touchdown of the night.

On the ensuing MSU drive, Russell managed to move his offense all the way down to the 14 yard line, using wide open receivers to get them in that position. Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner blocked the attempted field goal, allowing the Tide to keep its early shutout.

Later in the game, Alabama safety Robert Lester picked off a third-and-goal pass in the end zone after the Bulldogs marched from their own two.

For Saban, these plays effectively allowed Alabama to keep its momentum and directly affected the outcome of the game. For Lester, however, the play was nothing more than him
playing sound football.

“It all goes to execution,” Lester said. “We all want to execute from the beginning of the game, to the end of the game. And I think we did a great job of doing that.”

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