As a part of SEC Championship Game week, we're taking a look at Alabama's and Florida's common opponents in alphabetical order. Now up: Mississippi State.
|3rd Down Def.||2-13||2-12|
Alabama approached this game coming off of its hard fought win over LSU. It was on the road in Starkville, where State had taken the last one in 2007. It would not be a repeat of that magical year for the Bulldogs as the Tide rolled to a big win. It took about a quarter to get things going, but once they did, it was not good news for the Magnolia State representatives. Mark Ingram rushed for a buck fifty, Greg McElroy definitively broke out of his October slump, and only a token field goal in the fourth quarter got MSU any points. It was 17-3 at that point, a respectable showing, but two touchdowns in the game's final 10 and a half minutes made it a laugher.
Florida came into Starkville off of its worst showing of the year, its home game against Arkansas. It was a place Florida hadn't won since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, so just coming out with a win and breaking that streak was the most important thing. Florida didn't dominate statistically to quite the degree that Alabama did, but this game was never in much doubt. There was an unusually large amount of non-offensive points scored though. Offensively, the game ended 22-6. Mississippi State returned two Tim Tebow interceptions for touchdowns, one spectacularly for 100 yards and the other on an ill advised pass play from the Gators' own end zone. Florida got a pick six as well, though replay appeared to show a showboating Dustin Doe fumbling the ball before he broke the plain.
This was a big game for Alabama. The Crimson Tide struggled mightily in their previous two games, nearly giving away the contest with Tennessee and trailing LSU for a good portion of that one. McElroy had gone through a nightmarish October, and if Bama didn't have Ingram, it might have sustained a couple of losses. This win needed to be an easy one to restore confidence before the scrimmage against Chattanooga and the always tough Iron Bowl. That's exactly what Alabama got as it was an easy road throughout.
On Florida's side, it was the second most frustrating game after the preceding Arkansas game. It could have been an easy win as Alabama got, but the Gators couldn't stop shooting themselves in the foot. Both of Tebow's pick sixes were in terrible spots, and they were risks Florida didn't even really need to take. It's especially so with the first one; if Florida gets a touchdown there, it's 20-3 at the half and no one has any concerns from the game. Instead, it was just 13-10 and everyone kind of knew it was going to be a four quarter slog.
Calling this one is very easy. Both teams had little problem shutting down Mississippi State's offense. Only one team executed its offense without terrible errors though.
Better performance: Alabama, easily.