ITKThe Alabama defense hassled and handled Heisman Trophy Candidate and Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott early and often as the Tide taught the Bulldogs to behave, once again.

A trio of Tide defenders intercepted Prescott…Nick Perry, Landon Collins and Cyrus Jones…while Bama’s revolving front seven held the talented Bulldog QB in check most of the afternoon.

Still, a late Bulldog touchdown made things interesting, requiring a DeAndrew White onside kick recovery to seal the 25-20 victory, the Tide’s 9th of the 2014 season.

The Bama defense was smothering all game long, limiting Prescott, State’s leading rusher, to under 100 yards. And the Bulldog “human bowling ball”, Josh Robinson, was nowhere to be found, managing just 42 yards on 12 attempts. Bama safety Nick Perry led all tacklers with nine stops, with linebacker Reggie Ragland contributing another big outing with seven.

“Obviously, it was a great win for our team, our players, our fans, our university and everyone in the organization,” said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. “I think anytime you beat the number one team in the country, that’s a significant accomplishment. I was really proud of how our players competed in the game. I thought the defense did a fantastic job. The turnovers were huge with the three interceptions. They were all drive stoppers.”

Offensively, Bama was limited by a stingy, physical Bulldog defense who showed why they were unbeaten coming into the contest. But Amari Cooper again showed why he is the best receiver in America, making a clutch 2nd quarter touchdown grab and adding another 49-yard circus catch, setting the Tide up at the goal line.

Alabama never trailed in the game, with Alabama linebacker Trey Depriest earning the game’s first point by dropping runningback Josh Robinson in his own endzone. Adam Griffith would add a 36-yard fieldgoal. With Cooper’s 4-yard 2nd quarter touchdown grab, it was clear Mississippi State would be playing from behind the rest of the game, something the Dogs haven’t done much this season. State outscored Bama 17-6 in the 2nd half, a fact that only matters if they aren’t trailing by more than 11 at the end of the first half.

With the 25-20 finish over the top ranked Bulldogs, it’s certain that Alabama will make its first appearance in the College Football Playoff Committee’s top four this week. Unlike some, who boasted about dipping their toe in the poll three weeks ago when it didn’t matter, with two weeks left in the 2014 regular season, now it does.

News and Notes

• Alabama has now beaten the Bulldogs seven years in a row. The Tide owns the series, leading 77-18-3 all-time.
• The Tide owns the best winning percentage against the AP #1 team, dating back to 1936. Bama is 7-4 all-time against the top team, a 64% winning percentage.
• Alabama is 17-5 against the AP top 10, dating back to the start of the 2008 season, the dawn of the “new” Alabama under Nick Saban.
• Alabama receiver Amari Cooper surpassed the 3,000 yard mark for his career in receiving yards in the 3rd quarter of Saturday’s contest. He already holds the record for yards in a career, passing DJ Hall in last week’s win at LSU. Cooper finished the Mississippi State game with eight receptions for 88 yards, improving his career total to 3,039 yards.
• Next up for Alabama are the Catamounts of Western Carolina, a kick-off set for 3:00 p.m. CT. The SEC Network scheduled to televise the game.
• Prior to next Saturday’s game however, all eyes will be on the unveiling of the College Football Committee’s new top four this Tuesday night, where Alabama is expected to ascend from its current No. 5 spot in the NCAA Playoff rankings.

(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)

16 thoughts on “Tide poised for playoff run, topples #1 Mississippi State”

  1. The final score and stats are a little misleading

    Call me a Gump Homer, but their two touchdowns came on two fourth down conversions that were pretty much forced rather than opportunistic game play, not to mention a rather disparate amount of penalties including many of MSU’s yards coming from sometimes questionable Alabama penalties.

    All that means is while Alabama’s defense stifled the top ranked team with the offensive style everyone still thinks of as Alabama’s weakest link, the country still won’t change its mind on how much they don’t care about defense.

    The committee might, however. They have mentioned looking at how teams compare defensively against similar styles of offense from unplayed top ranked teams. It’s curious more than anything else.

    Bottom line, while there’s still no clear team that can say they’re the best in the game, Alabama definitely looked like they belong in the top group and they earned it, too.

  2. Alabama can’t possibly be left out of the top four this week. I’m wondering how far Mississippi State will fall and if two SEC teams can still make the CFP.

    1. well, i’ll say this, TCU proved they ain’t no top 5 team after that flop job against Kansas. makes the committee look like fools.

      very disappointed in LSU. but Arky’s been on the verge and that’s a tough road trip after a tough loss.

      the championship everyone wants to see?

      Bama v. Florida State.

      1. TCU is still a fantastic football team.

        But remember, the committee can’t wait until the end of the season to release their rankings because people would pewp.

  3. What happened in the second half was exactly what I thought. Bama knew they weren’t going to lose a game where they were up 3 scores. I think at half, instead of getting fired up, they 1, decided to go conservative and not make any critical errors – just put it in the defenses hands: and 2, I think being comfortable with the game allowed the pain and fatigue from LSU seep back in. They just looked sluggish on offense except for the neccesary td drive. Defense was tough. Made Miss St burn tons of clock to get whst they did. Hate that last score.

    1. I disagree. They forced MSU to execute two fourth down conversions just to have even an outside chance at an opportunity for an onside kick, among other things, and not to mention Alabama’s unforced penalties to give MSU both good field position and first downs on third.

      1. Disagree with what, idiot. Whatever that damn response was all about, it didn’t have a damn thing to do with anything I said. Leave the shrooms alone before you comment.

        1. I wish you would read responses. I love Alabama, but you so often let your emotions block any possible criticisms when it comes to logic.

          1. I stand corrected, good sir.

            It was three times MSU was forced to go for broke on 4th down, not two.

            My mistake.

            Roll Tide.

    2. Poor clock management by MSU. They had to use so much time on that last drive that the TD became almost meaningless. No different than if it had made the score 20 to 35 (or 45 or 55).

  4. you could definitely tell T J was not 100% but he didn’t let that keep him from making his usual contributions to the win.

    dude is a man among men.

    1. Proud of him. Over the years I’ve been frustrated by the fumbles (don’t really blame him for the LSU one) but he’s the best we’ve got. The guy is a stud.

      1. Fumbles happen. Missed kicks happen.

        But I would never trade TJ (among others) for anything else. The good outweighs the bad by such an enormous amount that it bothers me when the fumbles in the past are even mentioned. Maybe that’s the Gump in me, fine, but TJ Yeldon represents everything Alabama wants to define itself as across all sports. He’s a team player, a competitor, and he never ever quits.

        TJ put in some incredible blocks against MSU. Hell, he even caught a couple of passes. I can’t imagine he was pain-free all night long, but once again credit Alabama more than they’ll get after being beaten up by LSU for 5 quarters and performing the way they did against an incredibly well-rested and highly motivated MSU team.

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