Published November 20, 2014
AJ McCarron threw for a pair of touchdowns to lead No. 1 Alabama past 13th-ranked Mississippi State, 38-7, in a key SEC battle at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
McCarron completed 16-of-23 passes for 208 yards, but left the game in the fourth quarter with a bruise on his upper back and did not return.
T.J. Yeldon carried the ball 10 times for 84 yards and a touchdown, while Kenyan Drake also rushed for a score for the Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 SEC).
Tyler Russell threw for 169 yards with an interception on 15-of-30 efficiency for Mississippi State (7-1, 3-1), which had its nine-game win streak dating back to last season snapped.
Chris Smith paced all receivers with 73 yards on three catches in defeat.
"Obviously, we are very disappointed, that all falls on me as the head coach to make sure we had our guys ready and we were in positions to make plays tonight but we didn't do that," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "A lot of plays were there that could be made on the field and we didn't make them."
Alabama started the game's opening drive at its own 41-yard line following Cyrus Jones' 41-yard kickoff return and after converting a 4th-and-1 at the Mississippi State 37-yard line with an Eddie Lacy rush up the middle, Yeldon capped the 9-play march with an 11-yard run.
Mississippi State tried to answer on the ensuing drive by moving the ball as far as the Alabama 14-yard line with the aid of a 31-yard reception by Smith, but the Bulldogs would not be able to push the ball across the goal line and Devon Bell's 31-yard field-goal attempt was blocked.
The Crimson Tide then quickly added to their lead when McCarron found Kenny Bell deep down the left sideline and he raced into the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown, giving Alabama a 14-0 lead with 3:27 left in the first quarter.
"I thought it was important for us to get off to a fast start in this game," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I think we had the right mental energy and the right physical energy to play in the game."
After forcing a Mississippi State punt, McCarron hit Amari Cooper for a 25- yard gain before finding Michael Williams in the back of the end zone for a 9- yard score on the eighth play of a 73-yard drive that stretched into the second quarter.
Neither team was able to record a first down from there until Alabama started a drive at its own 47-yard line and McCarron connected with Christion Jones down the left sideline for a 22-yard gain on the second play of the drive.
The Crimson Tide were able to move the ball down to the Mississippi State 17- yard line, but the drive stalled there and they were forced to settle for Jeremy Shelley's 34-yard field goal within the final minute of the second quarter, making it a 24-0 game at the break.
Mississippi State seemed poised to get on the board on its second possession of the third quarter, a 16-play drive that started at the Bulldogs' 2-yard line, ate up over eight minutes of clock and was highlighted by Smith's 28- yard reception.
But on 3rd-and-goal at the Alabama 1-yard line, Russell was intercepted by a diving Robert Lester inside the end zone after the quarterback faked a toss to the left and rolled out to his right.
Alabama would be forced to punt after advancing the ball to midfield, but the kick bounced off the back of Mississippi State's Deontae Skinner as he was making a block and the Crimson Tide recovered at the Bulldogs' 27-yard line.
Three plays later, Eddie Lacy took a screen pass from backup quarterback Phillip Ely 27 yards for a score to put Alabama on top, 31-0, with 13:06 left in the game.
Ely was on the field because McCarron had gone to the locker room during the punt to get looked at by trainers. He returned to the sideline and throw some warmup passes, but he did not return to the game as the outcome was all but determined.
Jameon Lewis then had the ensuing kickoff knocked out of his hands during a 39-yard return and Alabama's Alab Landon Collins recovered at the Mississippi State's 43-yard line.
The Crimson Tide capitalized on the favorable field position with Drake's 3- yard touchdown run off the right side.
Robert Johnson's 2-yard catch in the back of the end zone ended Alabama's shut-out bid and capped the scoring.
Alabama has won five straight games against Mississippi State and leads the all-time series, 75-18-3 ... Drake finished with 47 yards on eight carries ... The Crimson Tide had 414 yards of total offense, while the Bulldogs had 256 ... Alabama was 4-for-11 on third downs ... Mississippi State went 4-for-13 on third downs.