No. 3 Alabama tops No. 20 Mississippi State 31-6

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Derrick Henry ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns and No. 3 Alabama used a season-high nine sacks on defense to beat No. 20 Mississippi State 31-6 on Saturday night.

Alabama (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 2 CFP) easily survived its last major test before the Iron Bowl in two weeks. The Tide shook off a slow start thanks to three long touchdowns in the second quarter, starting with a 69-yard punt return by Cyrus Jones.

Calvin Ridley scored on a 60-yard touchdown catch from Jake Coker and Derrick Henry ran for a 74-yard touchdown as Alabama built an insurmountable 21-3 halftime lead.

Henry added a 65-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3, No. 17 CFP) lost to the Tide for the eighth straight season. Dak Prescott threw for 300 yards but the Bulldogs never found the end zone.

Alabama's nine sacks were the most for the program since 1998 against Vanderbilt. Coker completed 15 of 25 passes for 144 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Alabama struggled on offense during the first quarter and had just 40 total yards early in the second quarter. But Jones' touchdown on the punt return - when he reversed field and broke a few Mississippi State arm tackles - broke a scoreless tie and finally jolted the Tide awake for two more big plays before halftime.

The first was when Coker found Ridley on a short pass. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound freshman used a nifty move at midfield to shake a Mississippi State defender and then sprinted for a 60-yard touchdown, pushing the Tide ahead 14-0.

There was nothing fancy about the second one. Henry found a seam in the middle of the field and once his 242-pound body hit full speed, nobody was going to catch him before the end zone. The run accounted for 74 of his 88 first-half yards rushing.

Mississippi State did a lot of things well on offense during the first half - except for get into the end zone. The Bulldogs outgained the Tide 254-180 before halftime but squandered a few scoring opportunities.

A fourth-and-goal at the 1 was stuffed when Prescott ran into Alabama's defensive line and a 50-yard field goal try fell several yards short. Near the end of the first half, the Bulldogs' offense was on the move again but Alabama picked up its fifth and sixth sacks to push Mississippi State out of scoring range.

Prescott completed just 22 of 43 passes and constantly had to deal with Alabama's defense in his face. The Tide's Jonathan Allen had a team-high three sacks while A'Shawn Robinson added 2 1/2.

It was a deflating loss for Mississippi State, which had climbed back into outside contention in the SEC West thanks to a four-game winning streak.

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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