Notes From Tide's Win Over Bulldogs

The popularity of poker led to the notion of "the tell," something that gives away the holding of a card player. There is a tell when Alabama plays football with Nick Saban as coach. If Bama is leading at the half, it's usually a good sign of victory.

Alabama has had the halftime lead 37 times in Saban's four years at Bama and 35 times the Crimson Tide has come out on top. That was the case again Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium as Alabama took a 30-10 win over Mississippi State. The Tide had held a 20-3 lead at intermission.

Alabama safety Robert Lester came into the game leading the Southeastern Conference and tied for fifth in the nation in interceptions. It's safe to say he didn't hurt his standings any with two interceptions against Mississippi State. He now has seven interceptions this year.

Alabama entered the game tied for sixth in the nation with 15 interceptions and has 17 after the game against State.

What's wrong with this picture? Wide receiver Julio Jones had more rushing yards than tailback Mark Ingram. But Ingram had more receiving yards than Jones. Jones had one rush for a 56-yard touchdown with Ingram having 51 rushing yards. Ingram was second in receiving yards with two catches for 77 yards. Jones had two catches for 30 yards.

Ingram's 78-yard touchdown play on the quick pass was the longest play of his Bama career. His previous longest play was a 75-yard pass play against Florida in the 2009 SEC Championship Game. Ingram's longest rushing play in his three-year Bama career was a 70-yard run in last year's win over Mississippi State.

Marquis Maze had a huge first half, then was almost non-existent in the second half. At intermission, he had five pass receptions for 89 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown play. He didn't have a pass reception in the second half.

Maze did make a difference on punt returns in the second half with a 22-yard effort. He finished with three returns for 36 yards, despite having an 89-yard return wiped out by penalty. Going into the game, Mississippi State had given up a total of only 16 yards in punt returns this season.

Alabama and Mississippi State came into the game tied for the lead in the SEC in turnover margin. The teams are still tied. Both had two turnovers and two takeaways to remain at plus nine. Alabama got two interceptions from the Bulldogs, while State got an interception and a fumble recovery from Alabama.

The win was Alabama's 19th in a row in Bryant-Denny Stadium. If the Tide can beat Georgia State it will be 20 in a row, tying for the second longest winning streak in the stadium. The longest winning streak is 57 games.

Alabama now has won 75 of 95 games against Mississippi State. The all-time on-the-field record is 75-17-3, although by NCAA mandate one Tide win was forfeited and one Bama victory vacated. The Crimson Tide now has a 40-9-1 record in games played at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

With the win, Alabama is 13-4 against the Associated Press Top 25 over the past three seasons. UA had reeled off nine-straight wins against top-25 teams until the loss at South Carolina. Alabama is 4-2 against the AP Top 25 this season.

The Alabama defense put constant pressure on Mississippi State, recording five sacks on Saturday. The five sacks are the most this season, more than doubling the largest output of 2010. The five sacks are the most since the Crimson Tide tallied five against South Carolina (Oct. 17, 2009) last season. Alabama recorded five sacks on three different occasions in 2009. Senior quarterback Greg McElroy surpassed the 5,000-yard mark for career total offense. With 247 total yards against Mississippi State (227 passing 20 rushing), McElroy became the sixth player in Alabama football history to break the 5,000-yard barrier. McElroy has 5,010 total yards for his career, 4,935 passing and 75 rushing.

McElroy had two touchdown passes against Mississippi State, the 33rd and 34th of his Alabama career, ranking fifth on the UA career touchdown passes list. He has 15 touchdown passes in the 2010 season.  

Junior wide receiver Julio Jones caught three passes for 41 yards against State. He is second on the Alabama career pass receptions list with 159 for 2,319 career receiving yards. On the season, Jones has caught 58 passes for 799 yards and four touchdowns.

Alfred McCullough continued to start at right tackle for Alabama. D.J. Fluker has not started since being injured against South Carolina. Fluker, however, did enter the game in the second quarter and take over the position.

Dre Kirkpatrick did not start at cornerback. Phelon Jones and Demarcus Milliner were the starters. Kirkpatrick returned to action in the second quarter.

Right guard Barrett Jones went out of the game early and was replaced by Anthony Steen. Jones has an ankle injury and is questionable for the Thursday night game.

Mississippi State starting fullback, Patrick Hanrahan of Springville, is a former Alabama walk-on.

Alabama wore the 2010 version of the Nike Pro Combat uniform. The high-tech uniform is said to be particularly light. There were changes from the traditional Bama uniform, such as the script ‘A' on the pants, the houndstooth pattern in the numbers, and as a tribute to the United States armed forces an American flag on the right sleeve.

Pre-game ceremonies honored the some 325 former Alabama football players, coaches, and managers who served in World War II. A recently published book, "When Winning Was Everything," pays tribute to those men, and this weekend 13 survivors were on hand for the game and for other festivities.

There was also a moment of silence in honor of Nick Bell, the Mississippi State sophomore defensive end from Bessemer, who died two weeks ago following a short battle with cancer.

Alabama will have its first Thursday night game in nine years when the Crimson Tide hosts Bill Curry and his Georgia State team at 6:30 p.m. CST. ESPNU will televise the game. Bama moved the game up from its scheduled Saturday in order to have an extra couple of days to prepare for the regular season opener against Auburn on Friday, November 26.

Mississippi State was the fifth Southeastern Conference team to have an open date prior to playing Alabama. Auburn will be the sixth consecutive SEC team with that advantage.

Alabama captains were tailback Mark Ingram, defensive end Marcell Dareus, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, and tight end Preston Dial.

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