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Bulldogs fall at No. 2 Alabama

MSU falls to 1-4.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Alabama The Tuscaloosa News-USA TODAY Sports

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Mississippi State was outmatched by No. 2 Alabama in a 41-0 loss Saturday evening inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Bulldogs fall to 1-4, while the Crimson Tide improves to 6-0. Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who was celebrating his 69th birthday, improves to 49-2 in the month of October as Alabama’s coach. He has also now won 95 consecutive games against unranked opponents.

The loss marks the first time Mike Leach has been shutout as a head coach.

Offensively, the Bulldogs were held to 200 yards of offense, including just 163 yards through the air.

Graduate transfer quarterback K.J. Costello, who got the start in the game, saw all five of his drives lead to three-and-outs. On his final drive, Costello tried to scramble for the first down, but Alabama senior linebacker Dylan Moses stopped him after a 4-yard gain. On that play, Moses’ knee struck Costello in the head and Costello left the game with an injury. He finished with 16 yards on 4-of-11 passing.

Freshman quarterback Will Rogers completed 24 of his 37 passes for 147 yards and two interceptions, though one of his interceptions was not his fault. Rogers’ best drive came midway through the third quarter when he drove the Bulldogs into the red zone. What looked like a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Osirus Mitchell, ended in Moses ripping the ball away for an interception.

Freshman running back Jo’quavious Marks rushed the ball nine times for 32 yards. He also led the team with eight catches for 38 yards.

The Mississippi State defense, which was led by senior linebacker Erroll Thompson with 11 tackles, surrendered 499 yards of total offense by the Crimson Tide, including 291 yards through the air and 208 yards on the ground.

Alabama redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones completed 24 of his 31 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns. All four of his touchdowns went to senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith. Smith finished with 11 catches for 203 yards and four scores. He now has 31 career receiving touchdowns, which ties him with Amari Cooper for the most career receiving TDs by an Alabama receiver.

Alabama senior running back Najee Harris rushed the ball 21 times for 119 yards.

On the game’s opening drive, MSU held Alabama to a field goal by sophomore kicker Will Reichard to make it 3-0 with 11:57 left in the first quarter.

On Alabama’s third drive of the game, Mississippi State called a corner blitz, which left junior safety Londyn Craft to cover Smith 1-on-1. Smith won that battle and found his way into the end zone on a 35-yard reception to make it 10-0 with 5:04 left in the opening quarter.

The Crimson Tide’s next drive ended in Smith beating Craft for another score, this time from 53 yards out, to make it 17-0 with 2:14 left in the first quarter.

Reichard’s 24-yard field goal with 14:52 left in the opening half then increased Alabama’s lead to 20-0.

Smith’s third and fourth scores of the game, an 11-yarder and a 10-yarder, pushed the Alabama lead to 34-0 with 13:50 left in the game.

Rogers’ fourth-quarter interception resulted in a 25-yard pick-six from junior defensive back Patrick Surtain II to end the game’s scoring at 41-0.

The Bulldogs will return to action Saturday when they host Vanderbilt for Homecoming. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT.