STARKVILLE, Miss. — A penalty kept Terrence Cody from playing offense against LSU.
Mississippi State had no such luck this week. Mark Ingram scored Alabama’s second touchdown behind another big block by the Tide’s nose guard. Cody had not seen action on offense for several games and he’s often joked about the possibility of running the ball.
When asked about that possibility earlier this week, Cody flashed a big smile while revealing nothing.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll see.”
Bulldogs in black
The Bulldogs pulled out all the stops in creating a tremendous game atmosphere.
In addition to the roaring clang of the cowbells, the team got the fans in an uproar when the Bulldogs came out of their tunnel wearing black jerseys with maroon numbers to go with their maroon helmets and white pants. AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” of course, was blaring over the speakers.
Mississippi State went through warmups in their maroon jerseys, although their decision to wear the black ones wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret. There were reports as far back as July that the Bulldogs would have several color-themed games.
Perhaps the Bulldogs should have taken note of how the Tide plays during “blackouts.”
A year ago, the Tide rolled into Athens, Ga., and walloped Georgia during its infamous blackout.
And speaking of cowbells, they’re a long-standing tradition for the Bulldogs despite the signs at the gate allegedly prohibiting the use of noisemakers.
Arenas nearing record
Alabama punt returner Javier Arenas is closing in on all-time punt return yardage records. He didn’t make much progress in the first half Saturday.
He returned just one, sort of, in the opening two quarters.
Arenas was drilled immediately after fielding the only punt he caught without a fair catch.
Late in the second quarter, he was flagged for an illegal fair catch.
Although it appeared he was just telling teammates to stay away from the bouncing punt, Arenas drew a flag for attempting to returning the kick after signaling for a fair catch.
Barron leads SEC
Mark Barron nosed back into the SEC interception lead when he picked off a Tyson Lee pass on the Bulldogs’ second possession. Mississippi State had an impressive drive in the works before Lee’s over-thrown, second-down pass that Barron turned into his fifth interception of the season.
MSU’s Johnathan Banks was tied with Barron with four entering the game.
Barron’s interception was his third in four games with last week’s LSU win being the only without pick from the sophomore.
Barron added to his total in the fourth quarter when he intercepted his second pass of the night and sixth of the season on a shoestring catch that set up Ingram’s 70-yard touchdown run on the following play.
Grant not in uniform
For the second straight week, Terry Grant was not in uniform for Alabama. Grant did not dress in last week’s win over LSU with an unspecified pulled muscle. In his absence, Julio Jones joined Arenas deep on the kickoff return team.
Colin Peek was the other player listed as “day-to-day” heading into the MSU game. The senior tight end played sparingly in the first half as Michael Williams played most of the snaps
He saw limited action against LSU without catching a pass two weeks after suffering a sprained knee in warm-ups before the Tennessee game.
Ingram briefly appeared to be injured after scoring his second-quarter touchdown.
First-quarter goose eggs
The scoreless first quarter kept the slow starting trend alive.
The Tide hasn’t scored a touchdown on offense in the first quarter since the first drive of the Oct. 3 Kentucky game. On the other side, it was that Kentucky game when an Alabama opponent scored its last first-quarter points on the Tide.
Alabama didn’t take too much time off the second-quarter clock before finding the scoreboard Saturday night. The Greg McElroy to Darius Hanks’ 45-yard touchdown connection came on the fourth play of the second quarter to give Alabama the 7-0 lead.
Tiffin gets his kicks
Tide kicker Leigh Tiffin was uncharacteristically idle for the first half of the game. The Muscle Shoals product who had been Alabama’s only consistent scorer was called upon for just two extra points in the opening half.
By the first drive of the third quarter, he was needed for a 39-yard field goal, which he nailed with plenty of room to spare.
For the season, the Lou Groza Award candidate is 26-for-28 kicking field goals.
Kickoff return scare
The early-season demon of the Alabama special teams nearly returned in the third quarter against MSU. Chad Bumphis appeared to return a Tiffin kick all the way for a touchdown, but officials said he stepped out of bounds around the Alabama 30 yard-line.
The Bulldogs picked up one first down on the drive that followed that ended on a missed field goal.
Virginia Tech and Florida International ran back kickoffs in the first and second games of the season before the tackling issues were resolved.
New attendance record
Mississippi State wanted a new record crowd, and that’s just what it got. The announced attendance of 58,103 easily broke the previous record set just three weeks ago.
The 57,178 who saw No. 1 Florida beat the Bulldogs on Oct. 24 was nearly 1,000 fewer than the group who took in Saturday’s game. Extra standing room tickets were sold to meet the extra demand for the Alabama game.
Christa Turner contributed to this report