There will be a new No. 1 team in the country come Tuesday. Mississippi State put up a good fight in the second half, but it wasn't enough, falling to No. 5 Alabama 25-20 in Tuscaloosa.
The Bulldogs looked completely overwhelmed early. Scoring opened with a safety to put up Alabama 2-0, and Alabama would eventually open it up to 19-0 in the second quarter, with Blake Sims connecting with Amari Cooper for one score and Derrick Henry claiming the other.
Mississippi State would eventually eat the lead down to only 19-13 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but by then they didn't have enough left in the tank on defense to hold off another Alabama scoring drive. They simply dug themselves too deep a hole, and you can't do that against Alabama, even if this isn't a vintage Crimson Tide squad. Dak Prescott threw three interceptions, including one in the end zone, and the running game never really got off the mat after a bad start.
Three things we learned
1. Hello again. The SEC West has a new leader, and it's a familiar face in Alabama. They're technically tied with Mississippi State for first place, but they hold the head to head tiebreaker over the Bulldogs and are now heavy, heavy favorites to win the conference and participate in the College Football Playoff. And speaking of the Playoff, the Tide will be in the top four when the new rankings come out on Tuesday.
They still have a huge test against Auburn to end the regular season. If they lose that game, Mississippi State could still win the West with a win over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. There are other permutations here too, but Alabama is the only team in the SEC West that controls its own destiny.
2. How far does Mississippi State fall? With their unblemished record no more, Mississippi State will fall down the College Football Playoff rankings. The question is, though, how far? It's possible that with TCU's unimpressive escape against Kansas, the Bulldogs could remain in the top four and push the Horned Frogs back to the outside.
But then again, Mississippi State's out of conference schedule is nearly as weak as the one Baylor gets punished for, but with four games instead of Baylor's three. When it comes time for the committee to compare teams, that soft schedule may come back to bite them.
3. Alabama's rushing offense: No longer a juggernaut. It's not that the Tide can't run the ball, because they clearly can. They rush for over 4.9 yards per carry on the year, and have a stable of super-talented backs headlined by T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry. However, their yards per carry average is down nearly a full yard from last year, and they struggled against Mississippi State's defense to grind the game out and put it away until late. They were only able to put up 126 yards as a team against Mississippi State, while they were averaging 206 entering Saturday.
Just something to keep in mind when the Tide need to eat clock and maintain possession in the future against Auburn or in the Playoff.