In a game that featured four Alabama Crimson Tide turnovers, Nick Saban's ballclub still found a way to coast to a 20-7 victory against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Coming off a blowout versus LSU, Alabama's win over Mississippi State is just another example of Alabama getting it done, even when it does not have its best game.
Saturday night in Starkville, Miss., was an absolutely sloppy affair. Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood pointed that out to the Associated Press following the game, stating, "We came out sluggish and we were sluggish to the end."
The Tide did everything it could to keep the Bulldogs in the ballgame. Quarterback AJ McCarron threw a pair of interceptions that gave Mississippi State a little hope. Both Kenyan Drake and T.J. Yeldon fumbled the ball, providing the Bulldogs with another chance to close the gap.
Despite multiple self-inflicted wounds, the Crimson Tide continued to fight on defense, keeping Mississippi State out of the end zone en route to a double-digit victory. The offense sputtered, but the defense traveled for the Tide, and that was enough.
It was a win that likely keeps Alabama atop the polls and ahead in the BCS standings.
While Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times joked about the defensive effort, the fact is this win epitomized what Saban expects from his unit. Good, hard football, where points come at a premium or not at all.
Facing a limited Mississippi State team, only surrendering a touchdown on a Tyler Russell fumble into the end zone, Alabama's D played well. Holding the opponent to under 200 yards of offense speaks to just how sharp Bama's defense played.
Following big point outputs in the last month of the season, it was the defense's turn to do the heavy lifting. Fumbles, interceptions and an inaccurate day from McCarron characterized the evening as Alabama reverted to its ground-and-pound and defensive roots for a night.
Alabama picked the perfect night to be sloppy.
As Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News points out, in the Iron Bowl or SEC Championship Game, four turnovers would likely lead to a loss. But not against a Mississippi State team missing its starting quarterback. Saturday night, Bama's defense and run game were enough to put the Tide over the top.
Although it is nice for Alabama to know it can still win without a stellar quarterback performance, this team is going to need McCarron going forward. The Tide will need him to be accurate and make smart decisions.
Alabama got away with one Saturday night, but with Auburn and possibly Mizzou or South Carolina on the docket, getting by without quality offensive play is not the type of rolling the Tide want to be doing.
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