Smith on Sports: Almost was not enough for Bulldogs

Danny P. Smith
Staff Writer

It was a night where the Mississippi State Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with what many people believe is the best college football team in the nation.

After what transpired around college football on Saturday, the Alabama Crimson Tide will probably have that standing for everyone.

It certainly is the opinion that MSU coach Dan Mullen has.

"I give them a lot of credit," Mullen said after the 31-24 loss by his team at Davis Wade Stadium. "They are an excellent football team."

The Bulldogs played about as well as anyone could against the Crimson Tide for about three and a half quarters.

MSU held a 24-17 lead after a 25-yard field goal by Jace Christmann with 14:13 remaining in the fourth quarter.

For the rest of the game, Alabama showed why it’s Alabama. The Crimson Tide made the plays when they had to steal one from State.

"They had a lot of players come up and make some big plays in key moments of the game," Mullen said. "They found a way to win there at the end."

It was one of the best games I can remember between the two teams, but the Bulldogs probably don’t want to hear that right now.

MSU has every right to be disappointed, but shouldn’t hang its head. It was a great effort.

There were two things on my checklist that had to happen if the Bulldogs were going to win. They needed to run the football and couldn’t have any turnovers.

It was a good night in both areas for MSU as there were no interceptions or lost fumbles and it had a decent game on the ground with 172 yards.

The rushing wasn’t good enough, really. Aeris Williams and Nick Fitzgerald did some good things in that department, but neither player had over 100 yards. Williams got close with 97 yards on 22 carries.

You can't fault the effort. The Bulldogs left it all on the field. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the opponent.

When MSU was able to get a 21-17 lead in the third quarter on a 2-yard run by Fitzgerald and was only able to get three more points the rest of the game, my thought was a 24-17 advantage was just not enough – not against the dangerous Tide.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts was very good for Bama down the stretch and pretty much willed his team to victory. He finished with 93 yards rushing and 242 yards passing. I’m not really sure why Hurts is not mentioned with some of the Heisman Trophy candidates right now.

The loss was a tough one to take for the Bulldogs and it won’t be easy to get over, but they must very quickly.

A road trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to face the Arkansas Razorbacks now awaits MSU and no outing in the Southeastern Conference can be taken lightly.

The Bulldogs can still earn a very respectable bowl invitation if they finish the regular season strong with wins over Arkansas and Ole Miss.

MSU can be upset it lost to Alabama, but can still be proud of the effort.

It’s time for the Bulldogs to go back to work and show that Saturday night’s game by pushing the Tide to the limit was no fluke.

Danny P. Smith is the sports editor and columnist for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.