Nov 16, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) points out the Mississippi State Bulldogs defense during the first quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


Saturday night the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide traveled to Starkville, MS to go head to head with the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and after an ugly game the Tide moves to 10-0, winning 20-7. Whether it was penalties, mistakes, turnovers or missed tackles, the Crimson Tide shot itself in the foot all night to keep the Bulldogs in it, but in the end the Tide was able to hang on and remain undefeated.

The Good

There wasn’t a lot good in this game, but when you turn the ball over four times, allow the opposing team to take over across midfield multiple times, make mistakes on third downs whether dropping a tackle or missing a tackle, and get costly penalties a win is most certainly a good thing.

T.J. Yeldon had a career-high 160 yards rushing and put the team on his back on multiple drives, but he did cough up a costly fumble as Alabama seemed to be in line to punch in another score. Regardless, he ran hard and was extremely physical yet again this week as he cross the 1,000 yard mark for the season for the second consecutive year.

Cody Mandell was impressive punting the ball for an average of over 50 yards per punt and downed Mississippi State inside the five twice. He has been one of the top punters in the country all year and tonight he came up big multiple times.

MSU’s running game was shut down all night long and they managed just 53 yards rushing for the entire game. Not having Dak Prescott was a big factor in that, but none of State’s running backs could ever get going as the Alabama defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage in the running game all night long.

The Bad

Third down efficiency was bad for Alabama, who converted on just four of 12 third downs, and the pass rush was almost nonexistent until the fourth quarter. There were a few occasions where MSU quarterback Tyler Russell felt some pressure, but for the most part the MSU offensive line handled the Tide defenders, even on blitzes, in the passing game. When Russell went out of the game after injuring himself on HaHa Clinton-Dix’s interception, Alabama brought the heat against freshman quarterback Damian Williams and got to him a few times.

The Ugly

Alabama turned the ball over four times and was penalized five times, while MSU only had one turnover and one penalty the entire game.

Both Yeldon and Kenyan Drake fumbled, which has become too often for both players. AJ McCarron also turned the ball over twice on interceptions, including one in which  OJ Howard looked to be wide open but McCarron never saw the safety watching him the entire way.

To win despite losing both the turnover and penalty battle is a big thing, but with Alabama traveling to Auburn in just two weeks this is something that must be cleaned up quickly. Some are going to argue that Alabama was coming off of such an emotional high that a letdown almost seemed likely, but that doesn’t excuse such lack of attention and focus, especially as Nick Saban preaches it constantly.

Those cowbells are the most annoying tradition in college football, and it’s not even close. What the hell do cowbells have to do with Bulldogs? It’s hard to believe anything could be more annoying than a team vandalizing its own campus as a celebration (Auburn’s rolling of Toomer’s Corner), but those cowbells take the cake.

Final stats are below.

PASSING
AJ McCarron: 18-32, 187 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT

RUSHING
TJ Yeldon: 24 carries, 160 yards
Kenyan Drake: 4 carries, 28 yards
AJ McCarron: 3 carries, 12 yards

RECEIVING
Amari Cooper: 4 catches, 45 yards
Christion Jones: 5 catches, 37 yards
DeAndrew White: 2 catches, 28 yards
Kevin Norwood: 2 catches, 23 yards, 1 TD
OJ Howard: 1 catch, 21 yards
Brian Vogler: 1 catch, 18 yards, 1 TD
Kenyan Drake: 2 catches, 9 yards
TJ Yeldon: 1 catch, 6 yards

DEFENSE
CJ Mosley: 8 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Trey DePriest: 6 tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup
Jarrick Williams: 5 tackles, 1 pass breakup
Landon Collins: 5 tackles
A’Shawn Robinson: 5 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack
HaHa Clinton-Dix: 4 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup, 1 INT, 16 yards
Cyrus Jones: 4 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup
Jeoffrey Pagan: 4 tackles, 0.5 tackle for loss
Christion Jones: 2 tackles
Brandon Ivory: 2 tackles
Xzavier Dickson: 2 tackles
Jonathan Allen: 2 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss
Darren Lake: 2 tackles
Deion Belue: 1 tackle
Adrian Hubbard: 1 tackle, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack, 1 quarterback hurry
Dee Hart: 1 tackle
Tyren Jones: 1 tackle
Kenyan Drake: 1 tackle
Dillon Lee: 1 tackle
Denzel Devall: 1 tackle
Geno Smith: 1 tackle
Ed Stinson: 1 quarterback hurry

SPECIAL TEAMS
Cade Foster: 2/2 FGs (long: 35 yards), 2/2 XPs
Cody Mandell: 4 punts, 51.3 yards per punt, long: 63
Christion Jones: 1 kickoff return, 18 yards; 2 punt returns, 3 yards

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