After a very unproductive third quarter by the Alabama offense, the Bulldogs seemed to have grabbed momentum with a field goal and a touchdown that had whittled a 19-3 Bama halftime lead to 19-13 early in the fourth quarter.
But Blake Sims took Bama on a six-minute drive, converting three third-down situations along the way, to give the Tide a 25-13 fourth quarter cushion and Landon Collins got the Tide’s third interception of the day to all but put the game on ice in the final minutes of the final period. State got a late touchdown that affected only those who wagered on the game.
The Crimson Tide now can win the SEC Western Division and go to the SEC Championship Game with a win over Auburn in the final game of the regular season. Before that, though, Alabama has its final non-conference game next Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts Western Carolina for homecoming. Kickoff will be at 3 p.m. CST in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
After scoring a field goal just before the end of the first half, the Bulldogs came out with a second half drive to a 32-yard field goal by Evan Sobiest that cut Bama’s halftime lead from 19-3 to 19-6.
Bama seemed poised to cancel out that field goal when Adam Griffith tried a 37-yard attempt with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter, but the kick was wide right.
Mississippi State was clicking on offense and drove from its 20 to the Tide 13, but a Prescott pass was intercepted by Cyrus Jones in the end zone.
J.K. Scott had an excellent day punting fopr Bama with seven kicks for a 45.6 average with five inside the 20. But he had one that wasn’t hit well and was returned by State to the Tide 38.
From there Dak Prescott got his team to the end zone in just five plays. He had a run for 22 yards to start the drive late in the third quarter and finished it with a slant pass to Fred Ross for a four-yard touchdown.
It was Alabama 19, Mississippi State 13 with more than 14 minutes to play.
Bama had been starting drives with passes – two often incomplete passes. Starting at its 24, the Tide went with the run on first down, Derrick Henry getting the drive started with a nine-yard run. On a third-and-six, Sims had to scramble and found his safety valve, T.J. Yeldon, for a gain of eight and a first down at the 48. Three plays later, a third-and-eight, Sims scrambled for for 10 yards and a first down. Three plays after that, Sims was scrambling again, this time for 11 yards and a first down at the State 29.
Yeldon followed with back-to-back runs of 10 and 11 yards for a first and goal at the 8. After a one-yard gain, Yeldon took it up the middle and into the end zone. The 76-yard, 15-play drive had taken exactly six minutes, running the clock down to 8:09, and expanded the Bama lead to 25-13.
Alabama went for two points after that, but the pass for Amari Cooper was knocked away, incomplete.
State began another drive and it reached the Alabama 20 when a Prescott pass was tipped at the line by A’Shawn Robinson and intercepted at the 17 by Landon Collins with five minutes to play.
Alabama was able to run off 1:43 before punting it down to the State 48.
Prescott took the Bulldogs on a 13-play, 72-yard drive, but when he completed the four-yard pass to Jameon Lewis for the touchdown, all but15 seconds had been drained from the clock.
State’s onside kick try failed and there will be a new number one team this week.
Alabama got off to an unusual 2-0 lead midway through the first quarter after the Tide’s JK Scott punted the Bulldogs back to their 5-yard line. After an incomplete pass, State’s Josh Robinson was trying a sweep at left end, but was slowed down by Geno Smith and finished off by Trey DePreist and Jonathan Allen in the end zone for a safety with 7:49 to play in the half.
After the free kick, Bama started at its 39. After four Derrick Henry runs, Blake Sims hit DeAndrew White on an 11-yard gain to the Mississippi State 34. T.J. Yeldon then took over the running with a first down to the 23. The drive stalled, though, and Adam Griffith kicked a 36-yard field goal.
With 2:06 to play in the first quarter, Bama had extended its lead to 5-0.
A poor Mississippi State punt set Bama up at its 39 yard line. On first down, Sims hit fullback Jalston Fowler down the middle for a 35 yard gain to the MSU 26. Yeldon ran 11 for a first down at the 15. After a penalty for lining up offsides, the Tide was at the 20. Sims hit Amari Cooper for eight yards, then found Yeldon as a safety valve for a first down inside the 5. On first down, Sims made anice touch pass to Cooper for the touchdown. Bama had a 12-0 lead after Griffith’s PAT with 7:45 to play.
The Bulldogs put themselves in trouble with a poor kickoff return and then three bad plays, including one with an unsportsmanlike penalty at the end of it, and had to punt from the 8.
Christion Jones took the punt at Bama’s 49. On first down, Cooper made a nice leaping catch for 50 yards for a first-and-goal at the State 1.
Bama nearly frittered away the opportunity. Henry went in the middle and the ball came out, recovered by Mississippi State. On review, however, it was ruled that the ball had crossed the goalline before the fumble. With 5:32 to play, Bama was up 19-0.
State got on the board before halftime.
The Bulldogs had to gamble, Dak Prescott running for a first down on a fourth down play, and then Bama getting flagged for a face mask penalty that put the Bulldogs at the Alabama 25 with just over two minutes to play.
State got it down to the Bama 1, first and goal, with under 30 seconds to play, but had a false start. After three incomplete passes, State had to settle for a 23-yard Evan Sobiestk field goal.
The Tide had a 19-3 halftime lead.