The Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) quickly turned the meeting of unbeaten SEC West teams into a mismatch, rolling toward a national title game rematch at No. 6 LSU.
The Bulldogs (7-1, 3-1) came in averaging 36.7 points a game but didn’t score until the final minutes. They had been leading the nation in turnover margin but lost two fumbles and an interception.
McCarron completed 16 of 23 passes before sitting out the fourth quarter. He headed to the locker room briefly early in the quarter briefly but returned to the sideline. Coach Nick Saban said McCarron bruised his back but will be fine for LSU.
The Tide has now won the past five meetings and this one turned into more of the same, despite considerably more hype.
The Bulldogs had started 7-0 for only the second time in program history. Instead of proving they were legitimate SEC contenders, this game showed they have a ways to go.
McCarron hit Kenny Bell in stride for a 57-yard touchdown to cap a drive that started at Alabama’s 4. He then found tight end Michael Williams for a 9-yard score early in the second quarter. His 18 touchdowns tie him with John Parker Wilson for second-most in school history, two behind Greg McElroy’s single-season record.
T.J. Yeldon rushed for 84 yards on 10 carries, including an 11-yard touchdown. The subs tacked on two touchdowns after turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Alabama held the SEC’s leading rusher, LaDarius Perkins, to 38 yards on 15 carries. The Tide outgained Mississippi State 414-256.
Tyler Russell completed 15 of 30 passes for 169 yards but threw just his second interception of the season and took a number of hits from the nation’s top defense.
Alabama’s 24-0 halftime lead held until Mississippi State had a muffed punt and another fumble in the fourth. Then Alabama’s backup quarterbacks came in to convert those mistakes into touchdowns.
Phillip Ely hit Eddie Lacy for a 27-yarder and then Blake Sims led another scoring drive capped with a 3-yard touchdown run by freshman Kenyan Drake.
The Bulldogs finally scored on backup quarterback Dak Prescott’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Robert Johnson with 4:39 left in the game.
Mississippi State couldn’t cash in on two other scoring chances before the game really got out of hand. First, Dee Milliner blocked a 31-yard field goal attempt on the opening drive.
Then, Russell drove the Bulldogs 97 yards from their own 2-yard line before Robert Lester picked off a pass in the end zone late in the third.
Mississippi State managed to slow down Alabama’s offense for a stretch after getting bullied in the first 17 minutes but couldn’t find many holes in the defense.
The Tide has two shutouts and has lost two more in the final minutes with the reserves on the field.
SOUTH CAROLINA 38, TENNESSEE 35
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Connor Shaw threw three touchdowns and ran for another, and No. 17 South Carolina overcame the loss of tailback Marcus Lattimore for a 38-35 victory over Tennessee on Saturday.
Tyler Bray drove the Vols to South Carolina’s 19 with 1:08 left when he was hit from behind by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The ball popped loose and linebacker Shaq Wilson recovered.
Tennessee (3-5, 0-5 Southeastern Conference) forced a punt and got the ball back with 36 seconds to go, but Victor Hampton intercepted a long pass from Bray to close it out for South Carolina.
More pressing, though, is the apparent loss of Lattimore to a serious injury. The junior was taken to a hospital after hurting his right leg in the second quarter.
Missouri 33, Kentucky 10
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri got touchdowns off all three of Kentucky’s lost fumbles and quarterback James Franklin presided over a strong finish in a reserve role as the Tigers earned a long-delayed first win in their debut SEC season with a 33-10 victory on Saturday.
Kendial Lawrence ran for 108 yards on 23 carries with two TDs for Missouri (4-4, 1-4), which overcame its own sloppiness, too, after getting last week off following a 32-point loss at home to top-ranked Alabama. Marcus Murphy fumbled his first two punt-return attempts and Corbin Berkstresser was intercepted on consecutive passes by freshman J.D. Harmon to start the second half before getting replaced by Franklin, who was limited in practice this week after missing most of the previous two games with a strained left knee.
Raymond Sanders scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter for Kentucky (1-8, 0-5), which has lost seven in a row.
Mississippi 30, Arkansas 27
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Bryson Rose kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give Mississippi a 30-27 victory over Arkansas on Saturday.
The win is the second straight in the Southeastern Conference for the Rebels (5-3, 2-2), who snapped a 16-game league losing streak in their last game against Auburn.
Rose’s field goal was his third of the game, including a career-best 53-yarder that put Ole Miss up 27-20 early in the fourth quarter.
The Razorbacks (3-5, 2-3) tied the game at 27-27 with 2:09 remaining on a 4-yard touchdown run by Dennis Johnson, who finished with a career-high 161 yards.
However, Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace — who finished with 278 yards passing — directed Ole Miss on an eight-play, 61-yard drive that set up Rose’s game-winning field goal.
No. 22 Texas A&M 63, Auburn 21
AUBURN, Ala. — Johnny Manziel ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more — all in a little more than a half — and No. 22 Texas A&M beat struggling Auburn 63-21 on Saturday night.
On eight possessions led by Manziel, Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) scored seven touchdowns. The only non-scoring drive run by the freshman nicknamed “Johnny Football” ended with a missed 48-yard field goal by Taylor Bertolet on the final play of the first half.
Manziel was in the game for only one series in the third quarter before watching the remainder of the rout from the sideline. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns and had nine carries for 90 yards and three scores.
Auburn (1-7, 0-6), which has lost five straight, is off to its worst start since going 1-7 in 1952.
Vanderbilt 49, Massachusetts 7
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Jordan Rodgers threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score to lead Vanderbilt to a 49-7 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday night.
Sluggish most of the first half, the Commodores (4-4) broke open a seven-point game with two late first-half touchdowns in 55 seconds. They added four touchdowns in the third quarter to claim successive wins for the first time since starting 3-0 last year.
Along with an interception return for a score by Trey Wilson, Jonathan Krause returned a punt 40 yards to the end zone. It marked the first time a Vanderbilt punt return went the distance since 1999.
Massachusetts (0-8) remains winless in its first year in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy, the school’s all-time rushing leader, exited five minutes into the game with an injury. He later returned to the sideline wearing a splint on his right ankle.