MSU’s defense kept the game within reach for as long as it could, limiting tailback Trent Richardson to 39 first-half rushing yards. The Bulldogs forced three punts, had an interception and saw Alabama miss two field goals in the first half.
State also had a big fourth-and-1 stop in the third quarter.
The errors added up on offense and special teams: Some dropped passes, false start penalties, a dropped punt snap, two missed field goals, etc. Perhaps Alabama had something to do with those mistakes, but most were easily avoidable.
State also couldn’t get the running game going, being held to 12 net yards on 29 carries.
Keys to victory
Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday’s GameDay section:
1. Gang up on Richardson. Again, State held the Heisman candidate in check for two quarters, but he rushed for 88 yards after halftime. He got good help from backup Eddie Lacy (96 yards, two touchdowns), and Alabama finished with 223 yards on the ground.
2. Squeeze out the yards. There was little room to run for Vick Ballard or LaDarius Perkins, who had a combined 31 yards on 14 carries. Alabama’s front seven gave MSU’s offensive line fits all night long, whether in run blocking or pass protection.
Penalties and sacks put the Bulldogs in too many long-yardage downs, which plays right into the Crimson Tide’s hands.
3. Don’t be intimidated. MSU didn’t necessarily show fear, matching Alabama’s defensive intensity from the first snap. But some of the miscues could be attributed to the Bulldogs pressing because of the quality of the opponent. One thing, however: MSU committed no turnovers.
MVP Josh Boyd. The defensive tackle had a career-high 11 tackles, including two for loss, and led a strong effort by the Bulldogs’ front four.
At 5-5 overall (1-5 SEC), MSU has two more chances to reach bowl eligibility: at Arkansas this week, then Ole Miss at home. It can draw some good things from the Alabama loss, but so many unforced errors this late in the season is disconcerting.