If you told an Alabama fan that Mississippi State had beaten Nick Saban during his tenure there, they probably wouldn't believe you. But it's true. In 2007, State won 17-12. The biggest moment of the game was Anthony Johnson's interception return for a touchdown right before halftime.
MSU was 5-4 coming in, with a road win against #14 Kentucky in the previous game two weeks before. Alabama was 6-3 coming in, with a tough home loss to #3 LSU in the previous game. Bama was ranked #22, having been ranked as high as #16 earlier in the season. The Dawgs had beaten the Tide the previous year in Tuscaloosa, 24-16.
It was a defensive struggle from the start. Alabama QB John Parker Wilson only threw for 121 yards, MSU QB Wes Carroll only threw for 100. Both teams were held under 300 total yards for the day. With four minutes to go in the 1st half, it was a battle of field goal kickers with Bama leading 9-3.
Starting on their own 20, Wilson engineered the first solid drive of the game for either team. Over 10 plays, they gained 77 yards and ate up all the time on the game clock. At the MSU 3 yard line, Terry Grant was stuffed twice, only gaining a yard. Having used all three timeouts, it was 3rd and Goal for the Tide with :21 left.
Wilson had to throw, and Titus Brown broke through the line untouched to hurry the QB. He threw off balance and right into the hands of Anthony Johnson, who took it 100+ yards for the score. Oh, the euphoria! It was absolutely amazing! State couldn't move the ball all day, and it looked like Alabama would be up 16-3, or at least 12-3. Now, suddenly, the Dawgs were taking a 10-9 lead into halftime.
Anthony Johnson's 103 yard Pick 6 Mississippi State 2007 (via sfslickdawg)
At the start of the 2nd half, MSU was aided by another JPW interception. This time, Derek Pagues picked him off and returned it to the Alabama 25. Anthony Dixon took over from there and scored a TD to make it 17-9. From there the defense only allowed a FG mid-way through the 4th quarter. Titus Brown made his presence felt again on the final play with a sack of Wilson.
Mississippi State had beaten ranked teams in consecutive games after going 1-16 against them under Croom. It was all done in front of the first true sell-out of Davis Wade sellout. And this was pre-Mullen, when beating Alabama was equal to beating Ole Miss (in our coach's eyes). What's more, it made MSU bowl-eligible for the first time in seven years.