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Alabama Wins, 33-23, After Struggling With West Virginia

Alabama's offense moved the ball efficiently, but the victory was far from ensured deep into the fourth quarter

Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama beat West Virginia 33-23 at the Georgia Dome on Saturday in a labored victory. With the discussion coming into the game focusing on the starting quarterback battle for Alabama, it appears that, for now anyway, the battle is settled, as Blake Sims played throughout.

Sims started the game with three consecutive completions before the initial Alabama drive stalled out at the West Virginia 30-yard line; an Adam Griffith field goal tied the game at 3-3. While Sims was not spectacular throughout, he managed the Alabama offense efficiently, going 24-of-33 for 250 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, and tacked on 42 rushing yards. Overall, Alabama's rushing game had 288 yards on 49 carries, with both T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry going over 100 yards.

The first half of the game was a level affair before what felt like a game-changing possession ahead of halftime, when DeAndrew White made several Mountaineer defenders miss tackles for a 38-yard completion on third down. Two plays later, Yeldon scored from one yard out to give Alabama a 17-10 lead with only 1:43 left before halftime, and Alabama getting the opening kickoff of the second half. The momentum quickly waned as West Virginia's Mario Alford returned a the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to tie the game at 17.

Alabama added a field goal before halftime, but the lead was tenuous after a nervous half. The kicking game, which had struggled in 2013, would hit on all four field goal attempts by Adam Griffith, with three of them outside 40 yards.

Alabama scored the game-winning touchdown to cap off the first drive of the second half with a 19-yard Henry run to make the score 27-17. Afterwards, both teams tacked on a pair of field goals, but West Virginia was unable to get closer than a seven-point deficit.

The West Virginia passing offense did give the Alabama defense fits, as Clint Trickett finished with 29-of-45 for 365 yards and a touchdown, but the Mountaineers had at least six drops (a problem that also plagued Christion Jones for Alabama, who dropped what would have been a wide-open touchdown).

For now, the quarterback battle appears to be settled, with Blake Sims the winner, but with Florida Atlantic coming up, both Sims and Jacob Coker will likely see playing time next week.