Was that Alabama wide receiver ArDarius Stewart or famed race car driver Jackie Stewart? After all, Crimson Tide scoring drives against Mississippi State in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday often seemed like laps around an Indy car racetrack. Things like drives taking only 55 seconds and 45 seconds and even 16 seconds.
The average time of Alabama’s nine scoring drives – six touchdowns and three field goals – was about a minute and 40 seconds, and that was averaging covering 61 yards per scoring drive.
Stewart – the Bama receiver -- scored three touchdowns as No. 1 ranked Alabama rolled over Mississippi State 51-3.
The Crimson Tide is now 10-0, including a 7-0 Southeastern Conference record, while the Bulldogs fell to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in SEC games.
Alabama has its final non-conference game of the regular season next Saturday when the Crimson Tide hosts Tennessee-Chattanooga in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 6 p.m. CST.
Stewart scored on a 67-yard jet sweep in the first half and took third quarter passes of 15 and 20 yards from Jalen Hurts to pace Bama scoring. Hurts also threw a touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley and Hurts scored on a four-yard run. Adam Griffith had field goals of 30, 28, and 39 yards and five extra point kicks. After the starters departed, backup quarterback Cooper Bateman shoveled a little pass to freshman Trevon Diggs, who took it in from five yards out for his first Alabama score. The extra point after that final TD was kicked by newcomer Andy Pappanastos.
Hurts completed 28 of 37 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns and ran 11 times for 100 yards and a TD. Josh Jacobs was the leading rusher among tailbacks with 9 carries for 89 yards as starter Damien Harris had only 3 runs for 9 yards.
Stewart had 8 catches for 156 yards and tight end O.J. Howard 6-77.
Alabama had 26 first downs to Mississippi State’s 17 . The Tide had 31 rushes for 218 yards, the Bulldogs 35-94. Bama completed 31-41 passes for 397 yards, State 16-43 for 180 yards.
That gave Alabama total offense of 72 plays for 615 yards, Mississippi State 78 plays for 274 yards.
Both teams fumbled once and Bama lost its only fumble. Alabama was penalized 3 times for 35 yards, Mississippi State 4-31. The Tide was able to convert 7 of 13 third down opportunities, the Bulldogs 7-20. State also tried fourth down plays four times and came up with no success. Bama also came up short on a fourth down try.
Alabama was in the Red Zone (inside the 20) seven times and had seven scores. State’s only score, a 47-yard field goal by Westin Graves in the fourth quarter, was also a successful Red Zone score.
It’s not often a team would have a 30-0 halftime lead and there be a feeling that it wasn’t really hitting on all cylinders. But that’s the how it was for Alabama after two quarters.
Bama had failed to score touchdowns on three trips deep into Mississippi State territory, the Tide having to settle for field goals. Bama’s offense had also given up an interception and a long return, the special teams had given up a long kickoff runback with a saving tackle by Anthony Averett), and the defense had given up a long pass play.
You could even throw in time of possession, the Bulldogs winning that battle by three minutes at intermission.
Mere teaching moments for a future game.
On Bama’s first possession, the Tide drove to the State 12 on the strength of passes to ArDarius Stewart for 13 yards (jet sweep), swing pass to Stewart fo 19, and play action pass to Calvin Ridley for 20. But when the drive stalled, Adam Griffith kicked the first of his three first half field goals from 30 yards.
Mississippi State was obviously having its first half problems, including a shanked punt that set the Tide up at the Bulldogs 32.
Bama made quick work of that opportunity. Hurts scrambled for 9, hit O.J. Howard over the middle for 10, and two plays later executed a nice play action pass to Ridley for the touchdown. It was a 4-play, 32-yard drive that took just 1:27 and put the Tide up by 10-0.
State’s best scoring opportunity of the first half came following a Nick Fitzgerald pass of 41 yards to Donald Gray to the Alabama 34, but four plays later the Bulldogs had missed a 47-yard field goal try.
A handful of NCAA statistical rules probably need to be fixed, or at least categorized in some special way. For instance, take the jet sweep. This is more of less the Statue of Liberty 3.0. A wide receiver starts in motion, crosses just in front of the quarterback who is in spread formation, and then takes a gentle little pitch of about two feet before he begins running upfield.
Technically, that is a completed pass and the resulting yardage is passing yardage.
On second and 10, Hurts shoveled it to Stewart going from right to left. Stewart made it around the corner and then up the middle for a 67-yard touchdown that gave the Tide a 17-0 lead on the 16-second “drive.”
And it would happen more than once for an Alabama TD.
Later in the second quarter, Bama went 66 yards in only four plays – the big ones a 24-yard pass to Stewart and a safety valve pass to Josh Jacobs (who made Bulldogs miss left and right) for 26 yards. Hurts took it the final four around right end. It was 24-0 after that four-play drive of 1:14.
Alabama got two more field goals before halftime. The Tide more or less botched a touchdown opportunity from inside the Red Zone and had to setting for Griffith’s second field goal, a 28-yarder, with 2:37 to play to extend the lead to 27-0.
Bama got the ball back with 2:09 at its 36 and clawed its way to the Bulldogs 21 with 16 seconds before intermission. Two passes were incomplete, and as time ran out Griffith’s third quarter of the half was good from 39.
It was 30-0 at halftime.
The Mississippi State highlight reel this week is the first possession of the second half as the Bulldogs took advantage of a pass interference call and a couple of pass completions to move to the Bama 29. (The Bullies actually had been at the Tide 19 before a 10-yard sack by Ryan Anderson.) Graves pulled State to within 30-3 with his 47-yard kick.
It took the Tidew awhile to get untracked, but finally midway through the third quarter Bama was able to get a 42-yard run from Jacobs and a facemask penalty to set the Tide up at the 15. Hurts hadx good pass protection and hit Stewart in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown and 37-3 lead.
A minute and a half later the lead was at 44-3 as the Tide put together a 3-play, 58-yard, 55-second touchdown drive with Hurts hitting Stewart across the middle on a 20-yard play. It was 44-3 and the starters were done before the end of the third quarter.
Alabama wasn’t done, though. With Bateman Cooper at quarrterback and a variety of newcomers along with a few experienced players, Alabama got one final touchdown.
That score came with just under three minutes to play.
Alabama got the ball at its 39. Bateman hit Cam Sims for 31 yards to start the six-play drive. Ronny Clark got it to first0and-goal at the 5.
From there, Diggs went in on the jet sweep and Andy Pappnastos ended the scoring for the day with his extra point.
Alabama defense was led by four players who were in on six tackles each – Reuben Foster (4 primary, 2 assist), Minkah Fitzpatrick (3-3), Rashaan Evans (2-4), and Dalvin Tomlinson (0-6). Ronnie Harrison and DaRon Payne were in on five each, while those in onb four each ere Anthony Averett, Tony Brown, and Ryan Andderson.
96 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Williams, Andeerson, and Raekwon Davis had one sack each and Tony Brown turned in an interception.
Video by A.P. Steadham