NCAA FB

No. 1 Alabama sloppy in win, seeks improvement

Share This Story

   
 

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP)

No. 1 Alabama was able to sleepwalk through its 20-7 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday without dire consequences.

Opponents in the near future probably won't be as forgiving.

The Crimson Tide (10-0, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) had a tepid offensive showing against the Bulldogs, with 383 total yards and an uncharacteristic four turnovers. Alabama still escaped with a relatively easy victory, but coach Nick Saban said the game was a reminder that his team isn't invincible.

''We won the game, but we really didn't beat the other team,'' Saban said. ''That's really not how we usually try and do it. But there's a lot our players can learn from this in terms of how prepared they were and what their mental energy and intensity was going into the game.''

Alabama's offense looked lethargic from the start, leaning on the defense while lurching to a 10-0 halftime lead. A.J. McCarron threw his first two interceptions since September and T.J. Yeldon had a costly fumble in the third quarter that led to Mississippi State's only touchdown of the night.

It wasn't all bad for the Tide. McCarron threw for 187 yards and two touchdowns while Yeldon rushed for career-high 160 yards. And the defense was suffocating, allowing just 197 total yards and coming up with two huge defensive stops after turnovers in the second half.

''It's a turning point in the game to get those stops,'' Saban said. ''The defense showed a lot of character.''

But considering Alabama had won seven straight games by at least three touchdowns before Saturday, the relative success for a mediocre Mississippi State (4-6, 1-5) team was unexpected.

''It was a battle up front,'' Alabama offensive lineman Anthony Steen said. ''It was the most difficult game I have played so far this season.''

In the end, it was a victory. And even though it was ugly, it might have been the splash of cold water Alabama needed to make sure its focus is complete heading into the most crucial games of the season.

Now the two-week hype begins for one of the most anticipated Iron Bowls in years. Alabama has one more game in the interim - against FCS-level Chattanooga on Saturday - and it will give the Tide a chance to clean up its performance in advance of the Nov. 30 showdown with Auburn (10-1, 6-1).

The winner will clinch the SEC Western Division and play for the league championship on Dec. 7.

Alabama will almost certainly be the favorite, even though the game is at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium.

But the Tide's immortality has taken a hit. Saban is on full alert.

''It takes a lot of discipline,'' Saban said. ''It takes a lot of character. We have to have those things if we want to separate from those other teams. That's something we have to prove that we can do. I think there's a lot to be learned from this.''

-----

Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

Tagged: Alabama, Mississippi

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash