Published January 08, 2015
Tuscaloosa, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Alabama defense picked off Dak Prescott three times and the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide took down the top- ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs, 25-20, in a key SEC West showdown.
With the victory, Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC) is virtually guaranteed to move up in the College Football Playoff rankings. They were fifth coming into the game.
"Obviously, it was a great win for our team, our players, our fans, our university and everyone in the organization," said Alabama coach Nick Saban. "I think anytime you beat the No. 1 team in the country, that's a significant accomplishment. I was really proud of how our players competed in the game. I thought the defense did a fantastic job. The turnovers were huge with the three interceptions. They were all drive stoppers."
Blake Sims completed 19-of-31 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown for the Crimson Tide, who have won seven straight against Mississippi State.
T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry each scored a touchdown on the ground for Alabama, which has won 14 straight at home. Amari Cooper caught eight passes for 88 yards and a score.
Prescott, a Heisman Trophy candidate, connected on 27-of-48 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs (9-1, 5-1), who had a 12-game winning streak snapped. He also carried the ball 22 times for 82 yards.
"It was very disappointing. We squandered a lot of points," said Prescott. "We lost focus out in the game. You have to win in the redzone, but we squandered our chances. Alabama is a great team. They did a good job (with defensive) scheming. I think it was on us."
The Bulldogs got within 19-6 on Evan Sobiesk's 32-yard field goal early in the third quarter.
After each team punted once, Alabama kicker Adam Griffith missed a 37-yard field goal. Prescott had the Bulldogs deep in Alabama territory on the ensuing drive, but Cyrus Jones came down with an interception in the end zone.
The Mississippi State defense held and forced a three-and-out. Fred Ross' 23- yard return put the ball at the Alabama 38-yard line. Prescott's 22-yard run set up Ross' 4-yard TD catch with 14:16 left in the fourth.
But the Crimson Tide followed with a 15-play, 76-yard drive. Alabama converted a trio of third downs, with Sims using his legs to pick up two of them. Yeldon capped the march with four consecutive runs, culminating in a 7-yard touchdown. The score was 25-13 following a failed two-point conversion.
Prescott threw his third interception of the game on the ensuing Mississippi State possession, with Landon Collins picking him off at the Alabama 17-yard line.
The Bulldogs did score a touchdown with 15 seconds left after a drive took three minutes off the clock.
Alabama recovered the onside kick to secure the victory.
The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a safety. Alabama's defense tackled Josh Robinson in his own end zone with 7:49 left in the first quarter.
Alabama's offense followed with an 11-play, 43-yard drive that Griffith capped with a 36-yard field goal.
The Crimson Tide extended their margin to 19-0 with a pair of touchdowns in the second stanza. Jalston Fowler's 35-yard catch set up Cooper's 4-yard TD catch with 7:45 left.
Mississippi State was forced to punt following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Alabama started from its own 49 and Sims threw a 50-yard bomb to Cooper on the first play. Henry fumbled as he plunged into the end zone from one yard out, but replay showed the ball crossed the goal line first. The score made it 19-0 with 5:32 remaining.
The Bulldogs finally got some offense going on their ensuing possession. On 4th-and-3, Prescott had his facemask grabbed while he ran for a first down. Mississippi State moved the ball to the 1-yard line before settling for a 23- yard Sobiesk field goal.
Alabama leads the all-time series by a 77-18-3 margin ... Yeldon carried the ball 16 times for 72 yards ... De'Runnya Wilson caught eight passes for 91 yards for Mississippi State.