Alabama: 31 Mississippi State: 24
As the 4th quarter began, the Mississippi State Bulldogs had the Alabama Crimson Tide on the ropes with a 1st and goal and threatening to take a two-score lead. The Alabama defense clamped down and forced a FG to keep the score at 24-17. Carrying the momentum of the defensive stop to the other side of the ball, the Alabama offense went 82 yards in 10 plays for a TD to tie the game at 24-24. A Mississippi State punt on their ensuing drive led to a missed FG attempt for Alabama. Mississippi State couldn’t sustain their next drive and gave the ball back to Jalen Hurts and the Bama offense with just over a minute remaining. Facing a 3rd down and long, Mississippi State brought the blitz, but Alabama was ready for it. Hurts found the speedy WR Calvin Ridley on a quick slant for 31 yards. On the very next play, the Bulldogs brought pressure again and once again Hurts beat the blitz. This time finding DeVonta Smith for a go-ahead TD with just 24 seconds remaining. A last-second desperation throw from Nick Fitzgerald sailed out of the back of the end zone, and the Bulldogs upset hopes were dashed. The loss snaps the Bulldogs 4-game winning streak, but Mississippi State put a scare into the team that will most likely sit atop the College Football Playoff rankings this week after #1 Georgia fell to #10 Auburn.
Next week: Mississippi State (7-3) travels to Arkansas (4-6)
Louisiana: 22 Ole Miss: 50
The game plan for Ole Miss was simple against Louisiana in their 50-22 win, get the ball to A.J. Brown. Including a score to make it 14-0 early in the 1st quarter, Brown finished with 14 catches for 185 yards and 2 TDs. This game was a rout early on, and the Rebels were in control from the get-go. In his 3rd start, Jordan Ta’amu impressed once again with a stat line with just one blemish on it, a late INT. Ta’amu finished 28/36 for 418 yards and 3 TDs in the air and added two more on the ground. The Ole Miss offense finished with 618 yards of total offense, with RB Jordan Wilkins adding 124 yards despite a nagging foot injury. A stat that the Rebels must carry with them through the remainder of the season is the 3rd down efficiency that they had on Saturday. Ole Miss converted 10 of 13 opportunities on third downs and kept drives alive. While Louisiana wasn’t the most quality opponent that the Rebels have or will face this season, getting a win for the second straight week can do a lot for a team that has been through a rocky road this season.
Next week: Ole Miss (5-5) welcomes Texas A&M (6-4) to Oxford.
Southern Miss: 43 Rice: 36
Southern Miss is officially bowl eligible after picking up their 6th win of the season; beating the Rice Owls 43-36. The Golden Eagles took a 22-14 lead into the half, but the Owls would open the second half with a score (PAT missed) to cut the lead to 22-20. Southern Miss would answer, but the Owls continued to fight. With 7:05 to go in the game, a Rice TD would bring the score to 36-34. A lengthy drive concluding with a score would ice the game for the Golden Eagles, and the win snaps a 2-game losing streak. After a 5-week stretch as the starting QB, Keon Howard was benched in favor of the man he replaced. Kwadra Griggs is healthy, got the start and played like he didn’t want to end up back on the sideline. Griggs threw for 331 yards and 3 TDs and completed 22 of 31 pass attempts. The strong aerial attack was supplanted by a solid performance from Ito Smith on the ground with 150 yards rushing and two TDs. While the Owls were 1-8 coming into this matchup, they gave the Golden Eagles all they could handle, but they were able to come out on top.
Next week: Southern Miss (6-4) takes on Charlotte (1-9) at home.