Important Pieces Fall Into Place
Alabama defeated Mississippi State in Starkville Saturday night by a 24-7 margin. That came a week after Alabama was a 9-6 overtime loser to number one ranked LSU, a loss that dropped the Tide from second to fourth in the polls and to third in the BCS rankings.
But on Saturday there were a couple of decisions that could help Bama rebound into the BCS national championship game and a possible rematch with LSU. Stanford was defeated by Oregon, 53-30, and Boise State was upset by TCU, 36-35.
Here are notes from Bama's win:
Linebacker Courtney Upshaw garnered a quarterback sack of Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf in the first possession of the game. That sack marked the fourth consecutive game in which Upshaw has had a quarterback sack, He has 5 sacks overall during that 4-game span. For his career, Upshaw has 14.5 sacks (86 yards) to rank 9th in Alabama history.
Allowing only 7 points against Mississippi State, Alabama has not allowed an opponent to score more than 14 points during the first 10 games of the 2011 season and 11 straight games dating back to the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State. The last time Alabama held its opponent to 14 points or less for at least 10 straight games was 1975-76 when the Tide did it in 14 straight games. The school record for consecutive games holding an opponent to 14 points or less is 31 from 1960-63. The Crimson Tide did it in the last three games of the 1960 season and all 11 games of the 1961 and 1962 campaigns before the streak ended in the seventh game of the 1963 season when Mississippi State scored 19 in a 20-19 UA win.
Including the win at Mississippi State, the Tide under Coach Nick Saban has held opponents to 10 points or less 32 times since the start of the 2007 season, including eight times in 10 games this season. Last season, Alabama held opponents to 10 points or less eight times and limited opponents to that mark seven times in 2009 and 2008. In 2007, the Tide posted two games in which it held opponents to that mark.
With a shutout of Mississippi State in the first half, Alabama has allowed seven points or less in 13 of its last 14 first halves of play. Over that span, the Crimson Tide has surrendered just three points or less on eight occasions, including five shutouts. UA had a streak of nine straight games before allowing 10 points in the first half to Florida on Oct. 1.
Mississippi State's touchdown with 12:03 left in the fourth quarter was the first touchdown allowed by the Alabama defense in 14 quarters of play, spanning all the way back to the first quarter of the Tide's win at Mississippi on Oct. 15 in Oxford. It also is the first touchdown allowed by Alabama in the second half of a game in six games, since the Arkansas game on September 24.
Alabama limited the Mississippi State offense to 131 yards of total offense. In Saban's 63-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited the opposition to less than 300 yards of total offense 38 times, or 60.3 percent of the time. The Tide has not allowed more than 251 yards (Penn State) in a single game this season and has limited the opponent to less than 200 yards six times (Kent State: 90; North Texas: 169; Vanderbilt: 190; Mississippi: 141; Tennessee: 155; Mississippi State: 131).
During Saban's last 50 games at The Capstone, the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to less than 200 yards of total offense 19 times. Alabama has accomplished the feat six times thus far this season, limiting Kent State to 90 total yards, North Texas to 169 total yards, Vanderbilt to 190 total yards, Mississippi to 141 yards, Tennessee to 155 yards, and Mississippi State to 131. The 90 yards against Kent State also marked the second time a Saban defense has limited its opponent to less than 100 yards of total offense. Alabama's best came in 2009 when they held Chattanooga to 84 yards of total offense. The Tide held opponents under 200 yards three times in 2010, four times in 2009 and six times in 2008.
With 127 yards rushing, junior running back Trent Richardson moved into the top 10 of Alabama's single-season rushing yardage list with, 1,205 yards. He moved into eighth place on the single-season list. Mark Ingram holds the Alabama single-season record with 1.658 yards in 2009.
Richardson ranks eighth on the Alabama career rushing yards list with 2,568 yards, 78 yards shy of surpassing Dennis Riddle (1994-97) who rushed for 2,645 yards in his career. Richardson tonight passed Bobby Marlow (2,560 yards from 1950-52) for the No. 7 spot.
Richardson moved into the Alabama top 10 list for career rushing attempts in the first quarter tonight. On his first rush of the game, Richardson surpassed Siran Stacy (1989-91) who had 429 rushing attempts in his career to move into 10th place on the Alabama career rushing attempts list. Richardson carried the ball 13 times in the first half, giving him 442 rushing attempts at Alabama. Shaun Alexander (1996-99) holds the Alabama record with 727 rushing attempts. Johnny Davis (1974-77) is next on the list with 447 rushing attempts in his Alabama career.
Trent Richardson scored on a 2-yard run with 13:39 left in the fourth quarter. That touchdown was his 18th rushing touchdown of the 2011 season and his 19th touchdown overall (he has one receiving), moving Richardson just one score behind tying Shaun Alexander's Alabama record of 19 rushing touchdowns in a season set in 1999. Richardson pushed his career total to 32 touchdowns on the ground and 38 overall. The 38 touchdowns (32 rushing, 5 receiving, 1 kickoff return) ranks tied for fourth on the Alabama career list with Johnny Musso (38 from 1969-71). Shaun Alexander (1996-99) is the Alabama career leader with 50 career touchdowns and Mark Ingram (2008-10) is second with 46.
With 127 rushing yards against Mississippi State, Trent Richardson recorded his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the 2011 season.
Quarterback A.J. McCarron moved into the top 10 of the Alabama single-season list for pass completions in the first half. McCarron's 6-yard completion to Marquis Maze in the first quarter, McCarron's third pass completion of the game, moved him past Freddie Kitchens (152 completions in 1996) into 10th place with 153 this season. McCarron's seventh pass completion of the game – a 6-yard pass to DeAndrew White late in the second quarter – tied him with Scott Hunter (157 in 1969) in 9th place. John Parker Wilson holds the Alabama record with 255 completions in 2007.
Sophomore wide receiver Kevin Norwood had a career-best receiving yardage night against Mississippi State with 2 catches for 60 yards, including a career-long 38-yard catch in the third quarter. His previous single-game yardage game was a 36-yard outing against Penn State in 2010. His career-high for catches in a game is 3, accomplished earlier this season against Penn State.
With the victory, Alabama holds a 74-18-3 lead over Mississippi State in a series that dates back to the 1896 season. The Mississippi State series is tied for the second-longest continuously played series in the Alabama record book, dating back to the 1948 season. Alabama has played more games (96) and has more wins (74) against Mississippi State than any other opponent on record. Alabama has won four straight in the series.
Saban is 9-1 in his career against Mississippi State, with his only loss coming in his first visit to Starkville as the Tide's head coach in 2007. Saban is 4-1 against the Bulldogs in his first five years at Alabama.
Saban has led the Crimson Tide to an 11-7 record in November, with four of those losses coming in 2007. In games played in November, Alabama has outscored its opponents 490-248.
Alabama's win at Mississippi State continued a trend of road success by the Crimson Tide in recent seasons. Including the win over the Bulldogs, Alabama has a 15-2 mark in true road games since 2008. The Tide posted a 3-2 mark last season on the heels of identical 4-0 records in 2008 and 2009. In 24 games away from Tuscaloosa since 2008, Alabama is 20-4, including a 10-4 mark against ranked opponents.
Anthony Steen was back in the Alabama starting lineup at right guard. He had suffered a concussion against Ole Miss and missed the Tennessee and LSU games.
Alfred McCullough, who replaced Steen the past two games at right guard, stayed in the starting lineup, replacing left tackle Barrett Jones, who suffered an ankle injury last week against LSU.
Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, tight end Brad Smelley, and wide receiver Marquis Maze -- also injured in last week's game -- were all back in the starting lineup for the Tide.
The Tide suffered some new injuries against Mississippi State as Jesse Williams suffered a shoulder injury, wide receiver, Darius Hanks injured an ankle, and safety Vinnie Sunseri suffered a concussion.
Attendance was 57,871, second largest in Davis-Wade Stadium history.
Captains for Alabama were safety Mark Barron, linebacker Alex Watkins, center William Vlachos, and linebacker Dont'a Hightower.
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