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Alabama Survives Starkville, Showdown Set

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T.J. Yeldon leaps past the Mississippi State defense Saturday night on his way to a career rushing performance. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
T.J. Yeldon leaps past the Mississippi State defense Saturday night on his way to a career rushing performance. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Crimson Tide earned victory number 10 Saturday evening and preserved their hopes for a third straight national championship. The Bulldogs used a stout defense to keep the contest close, much closer than the experts expected. Alabama’s 20 points are the fewest they have scored this season and their lowest output since losing 9-6 to LSU in overtime two years ago.

Listed below are five key takeaways from last night’s win:

Turnovers

Alabama uncharacteristically turned the ball over four times Saturday night and AJ McCarron threw two interceptions. It was the first time he threw two interceptions in the same game since last year’s loss to Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake each lost a fumble on successful runs. Yeldon’s turnover led to Mississippi State’s only touchdown.

Career Performance For Yeldon

Yeldon rushed for 160 yards on 24 carries, a new career high in rushing yards for the super sophomore. It’s also his second consecutive 1,000 yard season. His 50-yard run in the second quarter led to McCarron’s first touchdown pass of the evening and helped Alabama to a 10-0 halftime lead.

Defense Continues To Dominate

The Crimson Tide defense has shut out an opponent during the first half in seven of its 10 games during the 2013 campaign. Alabama has held an opponent to 10 points or less eight times this season and it’s the sixth time Bama has allowed seven points or fewer. Mississippi State was held to less than 200 total yards of offense (197) and gained just 53 on the ground. Mississippi State's offense did not score on Saturday.

Nick Saban And Alabama Pile Up The Wins

The win against the Bulldogs gives Alabama its sixth straight 10-win season. This milestone surpasses the five consecutive 10-win seasons by Paul “Bear” Bryant’s 1971-1975 teams. Since the start of the 2008 season, Bama has posted a 71-7 record to this point. That is by far the most wins by a FBS program in the last six years.

The Iron Bowl

It all comes down to this — win and you’re in. The Iron Bowl will determine the West Division representative in the SEC Championship Game. Auburn has a bye week next Saturday and Alabama hosts Chattanooga. So they essentially have a bye week to prepare for the big game Thanksgiving weekend as well. Saban is 4-2 against Auburn during his tenure in Tuscaloosa.