Mississippi State suffers first loss of season vs. Alabama
Published 12:02 am Sunday, November 16, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Mississippi State didn’t go away without a fight against Alabama, and isn’t planning on fading from the national championship picture just yet either.
Dak Prescott and the top-ranked Bulldogs saw their first-ever reign end Saturday with a 25-20 loss to No. 4 Alabama, despite two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
The loss may not have dropped Mississippi State (9-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) from title contention, but it was still hard to swallow.
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“We should feel awful,” Bulldogs 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.”
The Tide (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 5 CFP) 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.
Mississippi State scored early in the fourth to make it a six-point game but Blake Sims and T.J. Yeldon answered with a start-and-stop march to the end zone.
“It was one of the greatest drives in Alabama history, probably,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
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, and considerable gaps in tradition.
The Bulldogs 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 brutal SEC coming into the game, and didn’t go down quietly after trailing 19-3 at halftime.
“We just started playing football,” Mullen said. “We started making plays and started scoring.”
Down 25-13, Prescott had the Bulldogs driving in the final six minutes, even converting on fourth and 7. Then Landon Collins recorded Alabama’s third interception of the Heisman candidate with 5:01 left.
Sims completed 19 of 31 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown, but made his biggest plays on Alabama’s final touchdown drive.
He converted two third-and-long plays with runs a la Prescott, and delivered on a third with an 8-yard pass to Yeldon.