Alabama vs. Mississippi State score, takeaways: No. 5 Tide demolish Bulldogs in get-right game
The Crimson Tide regained their footing against the Bulldogs on Saturday night in Starkville
No. 5 Alabama bounced back from its loss against Texas A&M by trouncing Mississippi State 49-9 on Saturday night thanks to a vicious defensive effort and explosive offensive performance. The all-around game from the Crimson Tide left no doubt that they remain the SEC West favorites and are still a threat to repeat as national champions, despite the stunning stumble against the Aggies last week.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions to pace the offense, while running back Brian Robinson Jr. accounted for three total touchdowns. Defensively, linebacker Will Anderson racked up four sacks as the Tide repeatedly limited the Bulldogs to field goals with the help of a pass rush that racked up seven sacks.
Mississippi State trailed just 21-6 at halftime, but that's when Alabama's offensive explosiveness began to show. Wide receiver Jameson Williams took an intermediate route from Young 75 yards for a touchdown on the Tide's first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Robinson followed later in the quarter with a 51-yard touchdown reception of his own to put the game out of reach.
Mississippi State QB Will Rogers completed 35 of 55 passes but threw three interceptions, including two in the first quarter that put an early damper on the Bulldogs' chances of snapping a losing streak to Alabama that dates back to 2007. Mississippi State finished with -1 yards rushing.
1. Alabama's defense responds
A week after Texas A&M quarterback Zach Calzada lit up Alabama in the first half of the Aggies' upset victory, the Crimson Tide came out with purpose on defense on Saturday and sustained it for the entire game. Rogers entered with just two interceptions on 284 pass attempts for the season, but Alabama forced him to match that total in the first quarter. Josh Jobe ended Mississippi State's first series with an interception, which led to an Alabama touchdown. Jordan Battle followed up later in the quarter with a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown. It wasn't just the Alabama secondary playing inspired football, though. With the Bulldogs driving before halftime, Will Anderson picked up his second sack of the half -- and Alabama's fourth of the half -- to force the Bulldogs into a field goal. In the second half, Mississippi State racked up just 99 total yards as Alabama squeezed the life out of its SEC West foe.
2. Explosive attack
The Crimson Tide were averaging just 3.33 plays per game of 25 or more yards entering the game. Their total of 20 such plays on the season was tied for 53rd nationally. But on Saturday, Alabama had four plays of 25 yards or longer on touchdowns alone. First was a 46-yard touchdown reception by John Metchie. Then came Williams' 75-yard touchdown reception and Robinson's 51- yard scoring catch. Finally, Traseshon Holden put the finishing touches on the victory by taking a Young pass 29 yards for a score with 6:20 remaining. The Alabama offense may not have the vertical threat it did last year with Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith at receiver, but Saturday was a reminder that its talent at the skill positions remains some of the best in the country.
3. Mississippi State's roller coaster
If the 2021 season feels like it's been a roller coaster ride under second-year coach Mike Leach at Mississippi State, its because it has been. The Bulldogs needed late-game heroics to beat Louisiana Tech in their season opener before handling No. 22 NC State with relative ease the following week. Then came losses to Memphis and LSU before a victory at Texas A&M two weeks ago. Now, after losing to Alabama, the Bulldogs are 3-3 and will be fighting for bowl eligibility. Games against Vanderbilt and Tennessee State should be winnable for this team. Aside from those, however, Mississippi State will need at least one win from the group of Kentucky, Arkansas, Auburn and Ole Miss to reach six wins. Saturday was an awful showing for the Bulldogs, but they did pick up 24 first downs. If this team can get past the wounded pride of an Alabama beatdown, it will reach a bowl.
Will Rogers grinding
Surprised to see Will Rogers still in the game at this point. It's a 40-point deficit late in the fourth quarter. He's clearly banged up, and this game is way out of reach. Seems like getting the backup some reps would be prudent. Give that kid his due, though. He's battled his tail off. Those two INTs will make him sick when he watches this film back, but he's only a COVID-freshman and could still get multiple more cracks against Alabama.
Lights really out
It's now 49-9 Alabama after Young's fourth TD pass of the game goes to Traseshon Holden. Mercy, this is a beatdown. Crimson Tide up over 500 total yards. Think Nick will still find some things to critique, though.
Brian Robinson's three-yard score should put this one to bed. 42-9 early in the fourth quarter. This is arguably Alabama's best overall performance of the season, though you could make the case for the Miami game and the Ole Miss game. This one is different, though, because it's on the road and because of what happened last week. Alabama is making a statement here.
Another big score
Alabama's touchdowns have been 46 yards, 40 yards, 1 yard, 75 yards and now 51 yards as Brian Robinson takes a Bryce Young pass 51 yards for a crushing score that makes it 35-9 Crimson Tide. Bryce Young is up to 288 yards passing on just 17 completions. It's been a complete performance from the Crimson Tide tonight.
Will Anderson wreaking havoc
Yeah, there's a good reason why Will Anderson is appearing on all these midseason All-American teams. The Bama edge rusher has FOUR sacks tonight. The latest one forces a Mississippi State punt. That was Alabama's seventh sack of the night. We thought Alabama's defense would be its strength this season, and Anderson is willing that idea to fruition tonight.
Mississippi State's time
The Bulldogs are fortunate to get it back after a near-miscue while fielding the punt. Nonetheless, it's MSU's ball midway through the third quarter and in good field position. 28-9 Alabama. Bulldogs need something here if they are going to have a shot. Hard to imagine Alabama's offense won't put up another score or two.
Holding strong again
The Alabama defense forces Mississippi State's third field goal of the game. Bulldogs had no choice after an intentional grounding call left them with a fourth-and-19. So it's 28-9 at the 10:40 mark of the third quarter. That's 19 first downs and nine points for Mississippi State. Moving the football hasn't been the issue. Scoring has been.
Bama up big
It's almost like Jameson Williams saw my post from a few minutes ago suggesting that the Alabama receivers aren't DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle. Because Jameson Williams just HOUSED the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter. Takes an intermediate route 75 yards for a score to make it 28-6. It's all Alabama, folks. Williams and Metchie are no joke. Heisman conversation? No. But elite college WRs? Yes.
Bryce Young's quiet brilliance
Even without the benefit of DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle or Najee Harris, Bryce Young makes playing quarterback for Alabama look pretty easy. The deep-shot, vertical stuff isn't there as often as it was for Mac Jones last season. But for a redshirt freshman, Young is really good with the move-the-chains and make the right play kind of stuff. 13-18, 142, 1 TD, 0 INTs in the first half.
Both teams have exactly 200 yards at halftime, according to the official stats. But Alabama is up 21-6 where it matters — on the scoreboard. Mississippi State should feel fortunate the margin isn't greater, but Alabama couldn't get any points on the board in the final minute after the Bulldogs' second field goal of the half. Big story in the second half will be the health of Will Rogers. He appears to be in some real pain with his right shoulder.
Alabama's defense comes up big again
The Crimson Tide notch their fourth sack of the first half, forcing Mississippi State to settle for a 37-yard field goal. That makes it 21-6 as the Alabama defense continues to be the story of this game. Two interceptions and four sacks are a good first half worth of work for a unit that was not at its best last week. With 59 seconds left, Bama could go for points here as well before half.