No. 2 Alabama scores late TD to beat Mississippi State 31-24

Meet the new No. 1 team in the country: the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Same as the old team, really.

With a last-second, 31-24 victory over No. 16 Mississippi State on the road, the No. 2 Tide are poised to take over the top slot in the College Football Playoff rankings thanks to No. 1 Georgia’s loss to Auburn earlier Saturday.

What had been a slog of a game for Alabama’s offense ended with quarterback Jalen Hurts firing a laser for a game-winning, 26-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith with 31 seconds remaining in regulation.

(Via ESPN)
(Via ESPN)

That should’ve been the end of the game, but a poor kickoff following the touchdown gave the Bulldogs one last chance to tie things up. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald had Miss St. past midfield but couldn’t get any further — even with two Hail Mary chances, including on an untimed down to end the game.

Hurts finished the day 10-for-19 passing with 242 yards and that one crucial touchdown pass to go with 40 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground. Fitzgerald couldn’t quite keep up, going 13-for-24 with 158 yards passing and 66 yards rushing with one TD.

Still, the Bulldogs’ game plan kept Alabama in check for most of the game. Mississippi State held onto the ball for nearly 40 minutes of game time and didn’t commit a single turnover.

The Bulldogs scored their three touchdowns on the ground, becoming the first team to get three rushing touchdowns on a Saban-coached Alabama team.

A fourth touchdown might have sealed the upset. As Mississippi State led 21-17 early in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs were forced to settle for a short field goal inside the Alabama 10. A touchdown would have made for a two-possession game. Instead, the lead was just 24-17. And then Alabama took over, tying the game at 24-24.

The Tide had a chance to take the lead with less than two minutes left but Andy Pappanastos’s 41-yard field goal attempt bounced off the upright. Mississippi State had a chance to a go-ahead drive of its own, but a three-and-out put the Bulldogs in the scariest spot in the SEC — opposite a driving Alabama team with the game on the line.

Six plays and 68 yards later, the Bulldogs became just another close call on Alabama’s march back to the National Championship game.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) sprints past Mississippi State defensive back Brandon Bryant (1) for a short touchdown run during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) sprints past Mississippi State defensive back Brandon Bryant (1) for a short touchdown run during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

– – – – – –

Blake Schuster is a writer for Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at blakeschuster@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

What to Read Next