15 November 2008
Mississippi State's determined and effective early play gave way to an avalanche of special Alabama special teams plays in the first half, and a relentless Alabama team wore the Bulldogs down in the second half as the Crimson Tide handed a 32-7 loss to Sylvester Croom's charges in Tuscaloosa. The game was not without drama, as State outgained Bama 134-110 in the first half and led midway through the second quarter after a 31-yard touchdown hookup between Tyson Lee and Jemayel Smith, but overall Alabama proved just too special for State to hang in.
The Tide offense, and particularly the passing game, came out flat, but carried the lead from fairly on thanks to a safety scored on a punt blocked by Alabama's starting cornerback, Kareem Jackson, who came untouched on a high snap to easily get to the punter. Meanwhile, Alabama's sluggish play was neutralized because Rashad Johnson downed two P.J. Fitzgerald punt's inside the Bulldog's two-yard-line, one on a brilliant catch-and-drop by Johnson and the second on a brilliant punt by Fitzgerald that was easily downed deep.
State continued to hang tough, but after the visitors took the lead on the pesky Lee's pass to Smith, it was Javier Arenas' turn. First, Javy weaved through a series of holes in Mississippi State punt coverage on a 46-yard return to the State two. John Parker Wilson snuck in for the score two plays later to give the Tide the 12-7 lead they would take to the locker room.
Then, after the crimson defense stopped the Bulldogs on their first second-half possession, Arenas struck again, this time spotting a running lane created by his teammates on the right side of the field, then veering toward and running straight through it for an 80-yard touchdown that seemed to break the Bulldogs' back.
The rest of the game was an exercise in crimson domination as the home squad outgained its foes 254-33 in the second half. Wilson began to find open spots in the State secondary and found the range to his receivers in those open spots, and Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram combined for 149 rushing yards before Saban pulled Bama's first-string offense in the fourth quarter. By that time, State's defense, which had fought so grittily in the first half, was history, as the Tide's second-string offense easily ran off the last 7:00 of the game, ending 2nd and 2 on the Bulldogs' 32.