University of Alabama

Alabama football: Keys to win over Mississippi State

GAMELINE

KEY PLAYER

Greg McElroy put together his second straight quality performance in guiding the Tide to its easiest victory in recent memory. He connected on 14 of his 19 attempts including a pair of long touchdowns. He also avoided the big mistake against a Mississippi State team that had 12 interceptions this season of which four were returned for touchdowns. McElroy had been the face of the Tide offense’s struggles. Now he’s back to symbolizing its efficiency.

KEY MOMENT

What seemed like an empty third down conversion turned out to be anything but for Alabama in the second quarter of the scoreless game. Trent Richardson, who appeared to be stopped for no-gain on third-and-1, stretched for the final few inches to narrowly pick up the first down. The very next snap saw McElroy spot Darius Hanks for a 45-yard touchdown pass that provided six of the 31 points Alabama scored.

KEY DECISION

With Mississippi State thinking run all the way, Alabama went play action right after the Bulldogs cut the lead to 17-3 in the fourth quarter. The 48-yard touchdown pass McElroy threw to Julio Jones couldn’t have been any more wide open than it was. That score broke the Bulldogs’ back as the Tide cruised from that point forward.

QUOTE OF THE GAME

“I told our players, it’s going to be a street fight out there. We’re going to have to go toe-to-toe with them for a while. We’re going to have to change the way we think at times and the way we play and the way we execute.” — Alabama coach Nick Saban

BY THE NUMBERS

0: Second quarter first downs recorded by Mississippi State as Alabama scored touchdowns on back to back drives.

1: Wardrobe change for Mississippi State which warmed up in maroon jerseys but re-emerged from the locker room in black uniforms for the game.

9: Total yards Mississippi State managed in the second quarter after gaining 70 in the first quarter.

132: Yards Alabama had in the second 15 minutes to grab a 14-0 lead heading into halftime.

66: Percent of the Mississippi State yards that belonged to Anthony Dixon who ran for 81 yards and racked up 59 more on pass catches.

100: Percent success rate for Alabama in the red zone. It converted on its only opportunity when Mark Ingram scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.

6: Interceptions for the season pulled in by Mark Barron to solidify his spot on top of the SEC leaders.

— Michael Casagrande

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