By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Mississippi State had been getting good at starting fast on offense, but that trend was halted by Alabama on Saturday.
MSU had scored on its first possession each of the three previous games, and it looked like the streak would continue when the Bulldogs reached the Alabama 14-yard line. But the drive stalled, and Devon Bell’s 31-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Dee Milliner.
That preserved a streak for Alabama: It hasn’t let an opposing team score on its opening possession this season.
Alabama entered the game with one of the best red-zone defenses in the country, having allowed only five touchdowns. It finally allowed No. 6 late in the game with the outcome already decided.
State saw another trend interrupted by Bama.
MSU had been the first team to score in six of its first seven games, but Alabama opened the game with a methodical nine-play, 59-yard scoring drive. T.J. Yeldon ran in from 11 yards for the touchdown.
After the initial onslaught, MSU’s defense forced three consecutive three-and-outs – the first time someone has done that to Alabama since Texas in the 2010 BCS title game.
After gaining 161 total yards in the first quarter, the Tide had 91 in the second. Still, with a 24-0 halftime lead, Alabama has scored 20 or more points in the first half of every game this fall.
The Tide didn’t score again until early in the fourth quarter.
MSU rushed for only 12 yards against Alabama last season. That number was better Saturday, but it still wasn’t great.
The Bulldogs finished with a season-low 47 yards, averaging 2.2 yards per carry. LaDarius Perkins, who entered the game as the SEC’s leading rusher, was held to 38 yards on 15 carries.
MSU’s longest run of the night was 15 yards by Josh Robinson late in the game.
Alabama came out strong, driving 59 yards in nine plays on its first drive to take a 7-0 lead. Eddie Lacy converted a fourth-and-1, and Yeldon capped it off with runs of 10 and 11 yards.
Zero – MSU, which entered the game first in the country in turnover margin at plus-17, forced no turnovers.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron has yet to throw an interception this season. The Bulldogs made three turnovers, one of them a Tyler Russell interception and the other two fumbles – one on a punt return, one on a kickoff return.
MSU is back home for Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2 SEC). The Aggies beat Auburn on Saturday, 63-21.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Benardrick McKinney recorded his first career sack in the second quarter, dropping McCarron for a 13-yard loss. … MSU’s 54 passing yards in the first quarter was its most in that period vs. Alabama since 2006, when it had 55. … LB Cam Lawrence led MSU with 10 tackles. He also had 2.0 tackles-for-loss, a sack and a pass break-up.