Bama earns second straight shutout win
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama’s offense didn’t put up the video game-like numbers that had seemingly become commonplace. The defense played so well — again — that it didn’t matter.
The top-ranked Crimson Tide delivered its second straight shutout in a 24-0 Southeastern Conference victory over No. 18 Mississippi State on Saturday, when Josh Jacobs had a touchdown run and a touchdown catch.
With quarterback Tua Tagovailoa still battling a right knee injury, the Tide (10-0, 7-0) turned to defense for another vintage performance.
“I think in this day and age, you not only get judged on whether you win but you get judged on how you win,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I never thought I’d ever be in position to say that you get style points, but the way our system is, that may be the way it is.”
The offense had already banked plenty of style — and real — points along the way. Alabama raced to a fast start but mostly stalled from there against the Bulldogs (6-4, 2-4), who entered with the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense.
Tagovailoa started the fourth quarter on a stationary bike after getting his right knee checked out in the medical tent after a low hit. He didn’t return and wasn’t needed, mainly because of a defense that was overshadowed by an offense that had led the nation in scoring much of the season.
Saban said Tagovailoa could have returned if needed.
Fresh from a 29-0 victory over No. 9 LSU, the Tide defense hasn’t allowed a point in nineplus quarters. It’s the first time Alabama has had consecutive shutouts since beating Western Carolina and Auburn to end the 2012 regular season.
Alabama had five sacks and Mississippi State had four in a rough day for both quarterbacks against two talent-rich defensive lines.
Tagovailoa was 14-of-21 for 164 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also lost a fumble on a botched exchange with Damien Harris. Backup Jalen Hurts missed his second straight game with an ankle injury, and freshman Mac Jones finished 3-for-6 passing for minus-1 yard.
Jacobs ran for 97 yards on 20 carries, scoring on a 1-yard run and a 14-yard catch.
› No. 19 Florida 35, South Carolina 31 GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Feleipe Franks silenced the home crowd twice after touchdown runs, seemingly sending a message after getting benched the week before and booed earlier in the game, and the Gators rallied to beat South Carolina and end a two-game losing streak.
Franks dived across the goal line on a fourth-down play from inside the 1-yard line with 4:09 to play, putting the Gators (7-3, 5-3) ahead for the first time and for good. Florida overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half.
C.J. Henderson ended the Gamecocks’ comeback attempt by picking off Jake Bentley, but Franks was the player of the game, even if he thrived in a villain role. The sophomore put his fingers to his lips while celebrating with teammates, the kind of gesture usually seen from visitors.
Franks completed 15 of 21 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for two scores a week after getting pulled for the third time in two seasons.
Gators coach Dan Mullen opened up the quarterback competition, but backup Kyle Trask broke a foot in practice Wednesday and is out for the season. That left Franks as Mullen’s only viable option, and fans expressed their displeasure after consecutive plays on the first series in which Franks fumbled and badly overthrew a receiver.
South Carolina (5-4, 4-4) scored touchdowns on its first two possessions and looked like it would roll in the Swamp, but Franks and the Gators woke up and rallied, preventing former coach Will Muschamp from getting a victory in his second trip back to Florida Field since getting fired.
› Missouri 33, Vanderbilt 28 COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri’s defense bent but didn’t break during Vanderbilt’s final drive, and the Tigers beat the Commodores to clinch bowl eligibility.
Missouri kicker Tucker McCann had a chance to ice the game with 1:48 remaining, but the junior missed a 31-yard field-goal attempt to give Vanderbilt a last chance. The Commodores drove down to Missouri’s 25-yard line but couldn’t convert a last-second heave to win the game.
In the end, the Tigers (6-4, 2-4) are going bowling, and the Commodores (4-6, 1-5) will need to win both of their remaining games to guarantee a postseason trip.
Vanderbilt had led all game until Missouri running backs Damarea Crockett and Larry Rountree III fueled a 99-yard drive to start the fourth quarter. It started after Vanderbilt failed to convert a fourth-and-goal opportunity from Missouri’s 1.
From there, the Tigers trekked down the field for a 14-play drive that lasted 5:38. Quarterback Drew Lock trotted 3 yards into the end zone to give Missouri its first lead of the game, 33-28 with 9:18 remaining. › Texas A&M 38,
Ole Miss 24
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Aggies ended a twogame skid.
Mond threw touchdowns covering 21, 10 and 5 yards, and his touchdown run was a 1-yard scamper in the first quarter.
After being outscored 28-0 in the fourth quarter of consecutive losses to Auburn and Mississippi State, Texas A&M (6-4, 4-3) scored its first fourth-quarter points since Oct. 13 when Seth Smalls made it 24-21 with a 46-yard field goal early in the period.
The Aggies pushed their lead to 10 points when Mond found Quartney Davis on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 4:36 to play.
Ole Miss (5-5, 1-5) got within a touchdown when Logan made a 24-yard field goal with 1:51 remaining. An onside kick was called by Ole Miss after that, but the Aggies recovered it and Williams ran 46 yards for a touchdown on the next play to put the game out of reach.
Jordan Ta’amu threw for 373 yards and a touchdown for the Rebels, who lost their third straight. “This was a very significant win. We were playing for a lot more than what they were playing for, so we didn’t want them to mess up our future.”
Odds and ends
Alabama running back Josh Jacobs (8) carries the ball during the second half Saturday against Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama won 24-0, and Jacobs scored two touchdowns.