Bama teaches Bulldogs to behave in bounce-back win


CW / David Gray

Alabama’s Josh Jobe and Mississippi State’s Makai Polk face each other in Davis Wade Stadium on Oct. 16, 2021.

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Sports Editor

After a crushing defeat at the hands of the Texas A&M Aggies, Alabama football defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 49-9 on Saturday.

The goal for this week’s game was simple: get back on track. The road back to the College Football Playoff was trickier following Alabama’s trip to College Station. With one loss on the season, Alabama had something to prove this weekend.

“We’re no longer viewed as an elite team,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said.

The Bulldogs put up a fight at the beginning of the game. Quarterback Will Rogers threw for three first downs on the Bulldogs’ opening drive.

Then, the defense woke up.

An interception by cornerback Josh Jobe stalled the Bulldogs’ momentum. Alabama capitalized on a short field as quarterback Bryce Young threw a 46-yard touchdown to wide receiver John Metchie III.

Like last Saturday, the Crimson Tide got the early jump on their opponent.

Not deterred by the opening drive kickoff, Mississippi State went back to attacking the middle of the field, but they did not get a touchdown for their efforts. The Bulldogs had to settle for a 44-yard field goal from placekicker Brandon Ruiz.

The Bulldogs brought field goals to a touchdown fight.

Despite having more first downs and plays, Ruiz was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer. He drilled three field goals on Saturday. After throwing for 408 yards and three touchdowns against Texas A&M, Rogers threw no touchdowns on Saturday.

Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach’s air raid offense wasn’t effective. The Bulldogs only had four passing plays of more than 15 yards. Alabama had seven, including a 75-yard touchdown pass from Young to wide receiver Jameson Williams.

The reason for the air raid’s failure? Alabama pressured Rogers all night.

Leach’s offensive style relies on rhythm and tempo. There were moments when the Bulldogs’ offense exploited Alabama’s secondary, including a 43-yard pass from Rogers to wide receiver Malik Heath.

These moments came too few and far in between for the Bulldogs.

Last Saturday, the Crimson Tide had no sacks. This weekend, they had seven, and Linebacker Will Anderson Jr. had four of them. Anderson became the first Alabama player with four sacks in a game since Derrick Thomas in 1988.

“I give all my thanks to the players and coaches,” Anderson said. “The preparation was good all week.”

The lack of rhythm on the Bulldogs’ offense translated into turnovers for the Tide.

Before Saturday’s game, Rogers had thrown only two interceptions this season. Rogers threw three interceptions against Alabama.

Safety Jordan Battle had two of those interceptions. After returning his second interception 29 yards, Battle did a little dance.

“It felt good,” Battle said. “I’ve been waiting to do that.”

The energy displayed by Battle and the rest of the Crimson Tide helped them to victory at Davis Wade Stadium. The cowbells didn’t rattle Alabama. Most of the crowd had cleared out by the end of the third quarter.

The next step for Alabama is to keep that momentum going into next week’s homecoming game against Tennessee at 6 p.m. CT.