University of Alabama

No. 1 Alabama crushes Mississippi State

On a night when Bear Bryant's great-granddaughter was crowned as Alabama's homecoming queen, the Crimson Tide dominated Mississippi State as the legendary coach often did.

Alabama efficiently dispatched Mississippi State 38-7, setting up an anticipated showdown at No. 6 LSU next week.

The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide broke out with three touchdowns on its first three possessions, and the game never seemed in doubt after that. By halftime, when Mountain Brook's Lissa Handley Tyson received her crown, Alabama led 24-0 and was well on its way to a comfortable win.

Late in the fourth quarter, with this one in hand, the Alabama students chanted, "L-S-U, L-S-U," waiting for a rematch of last season's BCS National Championship Game, which the Tide won.

"We had a lot of respect for Mississippi State. You don't get to be 7-0 by accident," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "It was important for us to get off to a fast start in this game. We were prepared for a 15-round fight, and we wanted to take the fight to them in the first rounds."

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron came out of the game after three quarters, giving way to backups Blake Sims and Phillip Ely. The nation's leader in passing efficiency, McCarron exited to get checked in the locker room after a sack. He returned to the sideline quickly, with his injury diagnosed as a bruised upper back. He wasn't needed back on the field, and for the night, he completed 16 of 23 passes for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

"He's fine," Saban said. "He could've gone back into the game. He'll be fine for next week's game."

Mississippi State's Ladarius Perkins entered as the SEC's leading rusher, but he finished with only 38 yards on 15 carries. Alabama freshmen T.J. Yeldon (84 yards) and Kenyan Drake (47) each topped that.

The Crimson Tide started fast in this one. Cyrus Jones returned the opening kickoff 41 yards, and Alabama quickly drove the 59 yards to the end zone. Yeldon scored the first points on an 11-yard run.

Alabama followed on the next two series with two McCarron touchdown passes. First he hit Kenny Bell for a 57-yard score, then he found tight end Michael Williams for a 9-yard touchdown, putting the Tide up 21-0.

Mississippi State's best shot to break that early stranglehold on the scoreboard came in the opening quarter when Devon Bell tried a 31-yard field goal. But Alabama's Dee Milliner blocked it.

In the second half, Mississippi State drove from its own 2 to the Tide 1, earning every yard as Alabama harrassed and hassled Bulldogs quarterback Tyler Russell. But when facing third-and-goal with a yard to go, Russell tried to pass, and the Tide's Robert Lester snatched it away in the end zone.

In the fourth quarter, Alabama poured on two more touchdowns. Ely tossed a short pass to running back Eddie Lacy, who turned it into a 27-yard score. That was Ely's first career touchdown pass. Drake added a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Mississippi State added its touchdown late on backup quarterback Dak Prescott's 2-yard scoring pass to Robert Johnson.

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer