Tide beats Bulldogs, stays in title hunt

Alabama played Mississippi State at Starkville, MS on November 12th. Alabama scored 27 and MSU scored 7. /CW|Harish Rao

Alabama’s 24-7 win over Mississippi State was more than just another SEC game, it was an opportunity to show the nation that Alabama is still a member of the BCS elite and deserves a shot at the national title.

There was question of how Alabama would respond to its 9-6 overtime loss to LSU and whether the Tide would come into the game against MSU with a hangover.

“It was tough,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “Coming off a game like that, that we could have won. We definitely wanted to come out and prove some people wrong. A lot of people thought we weren’t going to be able to bounce back and had us as a big upset. That is something we used as motivation for this game.”

Despite holding the Bulldogs to 12 yards on the ground and 131 total yards, there are still some who would classify Saturday night’s game as an ugly win for the Tide. The Bulldogs frustrated the Alabama offense and caused McCarron to throw a costly interception. However, it is worth noting the Tide was up against the nations No. 17 defense in terms of points allowed.

“Mississippi State has a good team,” head coach Nick Saban said. “They came out and played LSU tough. Everybody that they played, they haven’t lost to anyone by more than 13 points and all the teams they lost to are ranked teams.”

Going up against two premiere defenses in back-to-back weeks is always demanding, especially this late in the season. However, Tide players were able to stay focused and grind their way through another SEC battle.

“We knew we had another tough challenge ahead of us,” wide receiver Kevin Norwood said. “We just came out and did what we had to do.”

Norwood said that Saturday’s win was big for the team and that they are optimistic for the rest of the season.

“Our feelings are through the roof right now,” Norwood said. “Even though we lost to LSU last week, we wanted to bounce back this week and show everyone that we are still on top.”

With Oregon’s recent 53-30 win over Stanford, it would appear one less obstacle stands in the Tide’s way in its pursuit of a 14th national championship. After the game, Oregon freshman running back De’Anthony Thomas stated that Oregon scored the most points against LSU, and they are the team that deserves a rematch with LSU come January.

As for whether or not the Tide remains any closer to playing for the title, Norwood said he hasn’t a clue.

“My guess is as good as yours,” he said.

As the No. 3 team in the BCS standing, Alabama title hopes are not in bad shape. However, the Tide is still placed in the uncomfortable position of relying on a team to lose in order to jump into one of the top two spots.

“I think it is kind of wrong to have to put your faith into other teams,” Hightower said. “That is definitely not the situation that we want to be put in, but that is the situation that we are in.”

With games against Georgia Southern and Auburn remaining, Alabama will have two more chances to prove why it deserves the chance to play in New Orleans in January for a national title.

“This season has gone by extremely fast,” Hightower said. “But I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we are in a situation where we still play for the national championship. We got to take it one game at a time.”