Once again it wasn't all that pretty, but it was not close and we won. Kick returner/DB Javier Arenas stole the show last night as he and a stout defense lead # 1 Alabama over Mississippi State, 32-7, to take Alabama to 11-0 on the season and keep their hopes of a national title alive.
Mississippi State (3-8) came out ready to go and took a 7-5 lead in the first quarter after a long Tyson Lee touchdown pass. While Alabama did not have the offensive performance many Tide fans were hoping for, Alabama's third phase of the game, special teams, came to play. It started early in the game when DB Kareem Jackson came in on a punt block untouched, blocked the punt, and it rolled out of the end zone for an Alabama safety. Arenas then stole the show as his first punt return opportunity was returned to the two yard line setting up an easy Tide touchdown. Arenas later returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown, setting off MSU coach Sylvester Croom. Kicker Leigh Tiffin added 3 field goals to complete the special teams sweep for Nick Saban's club.
LB Rolando McClain had 11 tackles on the evening and led an impressive defensive performance as the Tide shut down a pesky Mississippi State team that has beaten Alabama the past two seasons. Alabama finally figured out the Sly Croom riddle and now moves to an open date with arch-rival Auburn coming to Tuscaloosa in two weeks.
Now for some random commentary. It was a another "workmanlike" performance for a workmanlike team. That is just what we are. We win ugly, we are the Tennessee Titans of college football. Watching College Gameday yesterday morning Chris Fowler made the comment that some bookies said Alabama would be a 8 1/2 point underdog if the SEC Title game were played yesterday, which I see as good news. Florida is the beautiful homecoming queen that everybody is in love with. She has it all, no flaws. Alabama on the other hand is the 300 pound girl with warts on her face that nobody wants to dance with. She could probably out bench press everybody else at the party but people are not impressed with that. They want beauty and flash.
I am not saying Alabama will beat Florida Dec. 6 in the Georgia Dome. I have no idea if we can beat them. But I do think we will challenge Florida physically more than anybody else has this year. I think we will protect the ball and make them stop us from running the ball. The best thing that can happen to Alabama is for every talking head out there to pick Florida. To say there is no way Alabama can beat them. This team responds to challenges and plays its best when they are challenged, underdogs, or in a tough environment (i.e. Clemson, Georgia, Tennessee, and LSU). Unless Florida stumbles against The Citadel or Florida State it looks like that is what we will have, and it could not be a better situation for the Crimson Tide.