Mississippi State almost did it. They almost overcame the Crimson Tide. They almost outmatched the second ranked Alabama. Dan Mullen almost overcame Nick Saban. Unfortunately for those of us in Starkville, things did not go the way that we hoped that they would. The Bulldogs’ best just simply wasn’t enough tonight.
In the end, State fell 31-24 in a game that went down to the wire against the Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs led the Saban coached team for longer than every other team that Alabama had played combined.
The Bulldogs went punch for punch and toe to toe with the Tide in this game and it started from the get go. The Bulldogs claimed a 7-0 lead thanks to an Aeris Williams 11 yard rush. Alabama would answer after a couple of quick plays and a 1 yard run by Jalen Hurts.
Williams would strike again in the second quarter, giving MSU a 14-7 lead thanks to a 5 yard run, but again, Alabama would answer with a couple of big plays and a Josh Jacobs run.
In the third quarter, the Tide would then go on to take a 17-14 lead with a field goal, but a Nick Fitzgerald touchdown run and a field goal from the Bulldogs’ own Jace Christmann would put MSU up 24-17 as the 4th quarter began.
The 4th quarter, and the game, ultimately went in the Tide’s favor. An Alabama touchdown, followed with a controversial decision by Mullen to not go on 4th down, and then a touchdown by the Crimson Tide with 44 seconds to go would be how this closely contested game would eventually be decided.
This is a game that gave Bulldog fans hope. This is also a game that broke Bulldog fans’ hearts. An aggressive and brilliant game plan by Mullen that put the juggernaut that is Alabama football on the ropes seemed to be overshadowed by the decision to not attempt a 4th down conversion in Alabama territory in the 4th quarter of a tied game. For the bulk of this game, Mississippi State had the Tide. But, things fell apart in the end.
For every punch that Mississippi State could muster, Alabama simply swung back. For ever tough yard that Nick Fitzgerald would earn, Jalen Hurts would match him. And for every inch that Aeris Williams gained, Alabama’s backfield of bruisers would match him.
The Bulldogs owned over 38 minutes of the play clock. MSU rushed for 172 yards yards on a team that, on average, gave up around 70 yards on the ground. The Bulldogs fought tonight. They gave us hope. And though I thoroughly hate the phrase “maybe next year,” maybe the Bulldogs can do it next year.