There's an old adage in football, you must win the battle in the trenches in order to win the game.
On Saturday, the Mississippi State Bulldogs found out just how true that saying is as the Crimson Tide dominated the line of scrimmage early setting the tone for the lopsided 38-7 Alabama victory.
The Bulldogs matriculated the ball down the field on their opening possession moving the ball 41 yards on nine plays only to have a breakdown at the line of scrimmage resulting in a Devon Bell blocked field goal attempt by Dee Milner. From that point, things sort of fell apart up front for the Bulldogs.
Time and time again MSU's starting quarterback, Tyler Russell, felt the pressure of an aggressive defensive front from Alabama which led to a shaky first half for Russell. The Meridian native was just 8-of-19 for 84 yards in the first half after being hurried five times and sacked once.
While pass blocking wasn't working for the Bulldogs, run blocking wasn't spectacular either with State managing only 21 yards in the opening half of play.
Conversely the Alabama offensive line had no problem protecting Heisman hopeful A.J. McCarron who was 14-of-19 for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half. The Tide allowed one sack and a single hurry in the first half and blocked for a ground attack which compiled 75 yards on 18 carries.
In the second half, the Bulldogs mounted an impressive drive which started on their own 2-yard-line. State methodically, patiently moved the ball down to the Alabama 1-yard-line when on third down, Russell rolls out being chased by D.J. Pettway and throws his second interception of the season.
State prides itself on being a physical football team, most would agree that's accurate, however on Saturday night Alabama was clearly the more physical of the two teams. When the Crimson Tide needed to get the tough short yardage plays early in the game, they got them. Five times in the early portion of the game, Alabama picked up first downs in short yardage situations including a fourth and one in the opening drive of the game.
For the game, the Bulldogs could muster only 47 yards against college football's top defense while the Tide rushed for 179 yards.