TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama’s lead had dwindled into dangerous territory against the nation’s top-ranked team.
Suddenly, Blake Sims and the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide’s offense roared to life with a downfield march full of clutch plays. The result was a decisive fourth-quarter touchdown that finally provided some comfort in Saturday’s 25-20 victory over No. 1 Mississippi State.
“It was one of the greatest drives in Alabama history, probably,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
And it came in one of the biggest games in Mississippi State annals.
Alabama (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) reasserted itself as a national title contender with a dominant first half and some clutch play in the fourth quarter. Alabama had been stuck just outside of the top four teams in the College Football Playoff rankings but powered its way squarely into the mix.
Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs (9-1, 5-1) kept fighting to keep their first reign going for a sixth week, but they couldn’t conquer Alabama at raucous Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“We should feel awful,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “You should have a sickness in your stomach. We should embrace this feeling to make sure that this feeling doesn’t happen again. We’ll feel sick tonight but then we’ll get over it.
“Except for being undefeated, every other goal is still ahead of us.”
Mississippi State scored early in the fourth to make it a six-point game but Sims and Yeldon answered with a start-and-stop march to the end zone.
The Bulldogs produced a touchdown with 15 seconds left after a drive took 3 precious minutes off the clock.
“We just ran out of time,” said Prescott, who was intercepted three times. “I just think that it was us. I can’t turn the ball over like I did.”
Alabama recovered the onside kick to secure its seventh straight win in the series between two programs separated by some 85 miles.
MSU fell one win shy of the program-record 13-game winning streak but probably remain in the championship hunt. They were the only unbeaten team in the SEC coming into the game, and didn’t go down quietly after trailing 19-3 at halftime.
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