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Alabama Improves Playoff Resume With Critical November Win Over Mississippi State


The month of October belonged to the schools from Mississippi — first Ole Miss following its epic win over Alabama and then Mississippi State with its ascension to the No. 1 ranking.

It’s now November, however, and it’s Alabama’s time to shine. The  Crimson Tide seized control of the SEC West race with a 25–20 win over top-ranked Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon. Alabama, at 6–1 in the league, is the only team in the division that controls its own destiny: A victory over Auburn in Tuscaloosa will send the Tide to Atlanta.

Alabama is in this desirable position thanks to an impressive effort from its defense — even on a night it which the Crimson Tide allowed a season-high 428 yards. Mississippi State, statistically the top offense in the SEC, was limited to a season-low 4.86 yards per play and only scored one touchdown in the first 59 minutes of the game. The Bulldogs advanced the ball into the red zone six times but only managed two touchdowns (one with 15 seconds remaining) and two field goals. Alabama forced three turnovers, all on Dak Prescott interceptions.

“This is a really good football team that we played today — they’re really hard to stop,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, who is now 7–1 against Mississippi State since taking over in Tuscaloosa. “I think our defense did a fantastic job holding them to what we did.”

Alabama’s offense wasn’t at its best, picking up only 335 yards (on a 5.3-yard average) against an MSU defense that had given up at least 400 yards in its first five SEC games. But the Tide made the plays when it mattered, most notably on a crucial 15-play, 76-yard drive in the fourth quarter that extended the lead to 25–13. Saban was impressed: “That was probably one of the greatest drives in Alabama history to go down there and make it a two-score game in the fourth quarter.”

That drive, along with the aforementioned defensive effort, has put Alabama in position to move into the top four — possibly even the top spot — when the CFB selection committee releases its rankings on Tuesday night.