Alabama vs. Mississippi State score, takeaways: No. 6 Tide throttle No. 24 Bulldogs in bounce-back win
Nick Saban continued his domination of Mike Leach in SEC play
No. 6 Alabama didn't have any problems dispatching No. 24 Mississippi State, throttling the visitors 30-6 for a victory coach Nick Saban's team badly needed after falling 52-49 to undefeated Tennessee last week. The win continued Saban's domination over Mississippi State and coach Mike Leach with the Crimson Tide now outscoring the Bulldogs 120-15 in their last three meetings.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young finished 21 of 35 for 249 yards and two touchdowns, including a 31-yarder to JoJo Earle in the first quarter that got the scoring started. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs broke off a 19-yard score early in the second quarter, and Young found Traeshon Holden for a 6-yarder one drive later to make it a 21-0 game at the half and essentially demoralize the visitors. Young's night was even more impressive considering the majority of the offense was on his shoulders.
Mississippi State had its chances, though. A 13-play, 57-yard drive on the Bulldogs' second possession ended with a failed fourth-and-3 on the Alabama 15-yard line. They followed it up with a 15-play, 39-yard drive that resulted in a missed field goal that Alabama turned into Earle's touchdown six plays later. A touchdown at the last second served as Mississippi State's first in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, since 2014.
Young is the calming factor Alabama needs
Alabama was all business on Saturday, which is a direct result of its quarterback's mindset. The calming influence of the junior superstar was on full display not only with his demeanor but his play on the field.
Young's first touchdown throw, a 31-yarder to JoJo Earle, came after about eight seconds roaming in the pocket and directing traffic. It was the same story with a different verse on his second touchdown pass of the game when Holden broke free in the middle of the end zone after Young drifted right and away from pressure. Mississippi State seemed reluctant to pressure, and that allowed Young to buy time and find open receivers all night long. That's what leaders do.
Young could have come out and pressed. He could have come out with something to prove. He could have come out with the purpose of making a statement to the college football world. Instead, he trusted the process. Saban often uses the phrase "consistency in performance" when talking about his team's preparation. Young had constant control of the offense, which will be a big factor moving forward considering the small margin for error that exists between now and the end of the season.
The discipline is back
There's no way to sugar coat it: Alabama has been a hot mess on the road. The 17 penalties the Tide committed in Knoxville last week were the most under Saban, and they also had 10 at Arkansas earlier this year and 15 at Texas in Week 2.
Alabama is much more composed inside the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium, and it showed on Saturday. It committed just one penalty -- an illegal formation on a fourth-and-5 punt in the first quarter which didn't have any impact on the game whatsoever.
The receivers also stepped up after struggling to hang on to the ball last week against the Volunteers. Saturday night, well, not so much. They didn't record a single drop and consistently got open for Young whether he was in the pocket or on the run.
Mississippi State TD was a blessing in disguise
Bulldogs Running back Jo'quavious Marks went in untouched off left tackle from 1-yard out on the last play of the game to prevent the shutout. It was the first touchdown they've scored in Tuscaloosa since 2014 -- a 4-yard strike from Dak Prescott to Jameon Lewis. Yes, it was that long ago. But it's what happened after the score that was so telling. Defensive back Demarcco Hellams was furious with the secondary, Saban was clearly frustrated and it soured what was a brilliant defensive performance by the Crimson Tide. That's a good thing.
Fans will remember the first 59 minutes and 59 seconds for what they were, but Saban will use that last second as the most important moment of the game for his defense. Saban uses the phrase "don't waste the failure" when things don't go his way. You can bet money that he will exaggerate the "failure" of tonight's defense this week in practice, even though it only lasted one second.
Mississippi State stopped again
8:06 Q3: No. 6 Alabama 24, No. 24 Mississippi State 0
Mississippi State drove inside the Alabama 35-yard line yet again, but a fourth-and-12 prayer from Will Rogers sailed over the top of the secondary to end another double-dight play drive without points. The Bulldogs have drives of 13, 14 and 15 plays without anything to show for it. That's not to say that it would have mattered all that much. Alabama has gone into cruise control mode at this point.
Another touchdown from the Tide
8:19 Q2: No. 6 Alabama 21, No. 24 Mississippi State 0
Alabama came into this game as 21-point favorites, and it's on the brink of making Crimson Tide bettors very happy. Quarterback Bryce Young found Traeshon Holden wide open in the middle of the end zone to make it 21-0. Mississippi State has had its chances, but missed a field goal and has been stopped on two, fourth-down opportunities. Teams can't let Alabama have that kind of momentum and expect to stay in it.
It's a two-score game
11:38 Q2: No. 6 Alabama 14, No. 24 Mississippi State 0
Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs briefly went into the injury tent in the first quarter, but he announced his return with authority on the Crimson Tide's first drive of the second quarter. He capped off a six-play, 85-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 14-0. It was Gibbs' second rushing attempt on the game and only the third for an Alabama team that has made a concerted effort to expose the Bulldogs' secondary.
Mississippi State clanks one off the upright
13:21 Q2: No. 6 Alabama, No. 24 Mississippi State
The Bulldogs converted two fourth-down chances to answer Alabama's touchdown drive, but came away with nothing. The drive stalled at the Alabama 26-yard line, and Massimo Biscardi clanked the field goal attempt off of the left upright to waste the opportunity. That's twice that Mississippi State has been within the 30-yard line, but a failed fourth-down attempt followed by Biscardi's missed field goal has sucked all of their momentum away.