AP: Mark Ingram rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns, Greg McElroy threw two long scoring passes and No. 3 Alabama improved to 10-0 for the second straight year with a 31-3 win over Mississippi State on Saturday night.
Mark Barron made his fifth and six interceptions of the season, most in the Southeastern Conference, and helped the Crimson Tide (7-0 SEC) smother the Bulldogs (4-6, 2-4).
The Alabama offense matched the defense big play for big play, and did it without a turnover or penalty.
Ingram had a workmanlike night until midway through the fourth quarter when he ripped off a 70-yard scoring run untouched. That was a one-play drive â€” so was Alabama’s previous possession, when McElroy hit Julio Jones with a 48-yard touchdown pass.
McElroy also had a 45-yard TD throw to Darius Hanks in the second quarter.
Alabama plays Chattanooga next week, then travels to instate rival Auburn. The Crimson Tide is already locked into the SEC championship game against No. 1 Florida.
Both of Alabama’s long scoring passes came because of broken coverage â€” rare letdowns for a Mississippi State defense that played very well. But the Bulldogs offense was no help in front of a record crowd of 58,103 and Alabama eventually wore them down, opening things up for the big plays in the fourth quarter.
After McElroy and Hanks made it 7-0, Ingram followed gargantuan defensive tackle-turned-blocker Terrence Cody into the end zone for a 1-yard score to make it 14-0 at halftime.
The Alabama defense gave up early yards, but after Barron picked off his first pass with an athletic, diving catch, the Bulldogs were held without a first down for the final 23:30 of the first half. Alabama limited Mississippi State to just 83 first-half yards and 213 total, shutting down everyone except for Bulldogs running back Anthony Dixon, who finished with 140 all-purpose yards.
Even when Mississippi State found what appeared to be an opening, the Alabama secondary was there to shut it down.
Marquis Johnson was every bit as effective as Barron. He knocked away two would-be touchdown passes to O’Neal Wilder in the third quarter with great recoveries, forced a field goal with tough defense in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter and then finished off the Bulldogs with an interception of his own as time ran down.
The Crimson Tide held the Bulldogs two just two third-down conversions on 13 attempts and dominated the line of scrimmage.