Alabama was coming off a road loss on an end-of-game field goal entering the last Mississippi State game, too.
It didn’t go well for the Bulldogs.
The sixth-ranked Crimson Tide (6-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) hosts No. 24 Mississippi State (5-2, 3-2) Saturday night trying to bounce back from a 52-49 loss to Tennessee. Alabama rebounded from a loss to Texas A&M last season with a 49-9 win in Starkville.
“After the game on Saturday, I heard a lot of guys say, ‘We know this feeling, we know how to bounce back,’” Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. said.
The response then was a dominating defensive performance, and Alabama is a three-touchdown favorite this time around. Alabama held the Bulldogs to 300 total yards, sacked Will Rogers seven times and intercepted three of his passes.
Mississippi State had its three-game winning streak halted with a 27-17 loss at No. 19 Kentucky. After scoring more than 40 points in each game, the Bulldogs were outgained 478-225.
They now shift to Alabama, where coach Mike Leach said the challenge is containing quarterback Bryce Young and running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who has 63 carries for 463 yards and five touchdowns over the past three games.
“They keep you kind of thinned out because you’re trying to tend to both of them,” he said. “You can’t just focus on one thing because you’re vulnerable to both a little bit.”
It’s possible Alabama could be playing all or part of the game without starting wide receiver Jermaine Burton. The school is looking into a postgame incident when Burton appeared to strike a female Tennessee fan who got in front of him when he was coming off the field after the loss.
Tide coach Nick Saban has said the matter will be handled internally.
Mississippi State is grappling with the death Wednesday of freshman offensive lineman Sam Westmoreland. Westmoreland, who would have turned 19 on Friday, was an industrial technology major from Tupelo. Oktibbeha County coroner Michael Hunt said foul play is not suspected but didn’t provide further details.
The refs could get plenty of chances to use those whistles. Alabama has been flagged more times (66) than any other FBS team after committing a school-record 17 against Tennessee. The Bulldogs rank 119th, averaging 71 penalty yards per game.
ROGERS VS. YOUNG
It’s yet another enticing quarterback matchup for Alabama. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Young and his team lost the duel with the Vols and Hendon Hooker. Mississippi State’s Rogers ranks third nationally with 2,324 passing yards and 23 passing touchdowns.
He’s already tied Dak Prescott’s school record with 70 career passing touchdowns. Rogers needs 337 passing yards to match Prescott’s record of 9,376 yards.
Alabama’s defense didn’t look like one of the nation’s best in giving up 52 points, the most allowed by the Tide since a 54-4 loss to Suwanee in 1907. That fires up Anderson and his fellow defenders.
“It’s been a lot of elite defenses here, a lot of great guys that’s built a lot of tradition here,” Anderson said. “It’s a lot of anger and frustration that we lost something so precious to us, that was really big to us.
“But I think it’s gonna be a good week for us to take the challenge on and to continue to improve as a defense and get ready for Mississippi State.”
Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes has been especially opportunistic lately with four interceptions in the past three games, returning two for touchdowns. Last week’s pick-6 at Kentucky went for 59 yards as he jumped a quick out route and was gone. Forbes leads the SEC with five interceptions and tied the conference career mark with his fifth return for a touchdown.
___ AP Sports Writer Gary B. Graves contributed to this story.
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