You wouldn't have known it but looking at the scores, but the way Alabama smothered Mississippi State over the past two meetings were completely different, especially on offense.
Alabama won last year 41-0, and then on Saturday 49-9.
Big plays were the keys both times, yet from very different approaches.
"Last year, the big plays we made against them we threw the ball over their head," Nick Saban said. "The big plays we made today we caught the ball and ran with it, and because we took a couple shots early in the game and they really played soft, but Jameson's [Williams] long run was nothing but a curl. But because they were playing off of him, he was able to catch it and run with it.
"I think that's how we made the explosive plays today, I think our play-action game was good. We still struggled sometimes with our protection, got sacked a couple times. But I was really pleased with the way our guys caught it and ran with it and made some explosive plays."
All four Bryce Young's touchdown throws were of the catch-and-run variety, for, in order, 46 75, 51 and 29 yards. Consequently, he threw for 348 yards, and combined with having no turnovers finished with an impressive passer rating of 223.0.
Overall, Alabama had a whopping 252 yards after the catch, and 543 yards of total offense.
"It helps a lot," Young said about the yards after catch. "We have guys, as dynamic as they are, our job is just to get them the ball — try and get them the ball in a place where they run and be special.
"We saw that a lot tonight.
Play of the Game: Safety Jordan Battle's pick six set the tone, especially when he ran over the quarterback en route to the end zone. It was the first two
Player of the Game: Bryce Young had four touchdown passes and John Metchie III made seven catches for 117 yards and one TD, but the night belonged to linebacker Will Anderson Jr. He became just the third player in Alabama history to record at least four sacks in a game and the first since 1988. Derrick Thomas had five sacks at Texas A&M and four sacks at Kentucky, both in 1988, while Leroy Cook had four sacks against Tennessee in 1975.
Statistic of the Game: Young didn't have a third-down incompletion, going 7-for-7 for 133 yards and three touchdown. Only one pass didn't result in a first down and he also took a sack. Overall, Alabama was 12-for-16 on third down conversions.
Five things of note
1] The tight ends
Neither Cameron Latu nor Jahleel Billingsley finished with a reception, which was a little surprising considering that they combined to score seven touchdown during the first six games of the season. It wasn't like were excluded from the play-calling either, Young targeted them four times. Those were four of his eight incompletions.
2] Yards after the catch leaders
Alabama was led by running back Brian Robinson Jr. with 76, followed by Jaemson Williams with 63, Traseshon Holden 59 and John Metchie III at 50. Those were also the four players to score receiving touchdowns.
3] LaBryan Ray returns to lineup
Defensive lineman LaBryan Ray, who hasn't played a full season since 2018 due to a variety of injuries, made his first start since the Ole Miss game last season. Ray finished with one tackle.
4] When 300 is not 300
It's not very often you'll see a team tally 300 or more passing yards and fail to reach the end zone, but that's what the Bulldogs did. It's even rarer to see the same team finished wither fewer than 300 total yards.
Here's the explanation: MSU finished with exactly 300 passing yards, going 35-for-55, and leading to an average per attempt of 5.5 yards.
Because sacks count against the run in the college game, and Alabama had seven for 53 yards, Mississippi State finished statistically with minus-1 rushing yard. So the Bulldogs had 299 total yards.
Incidentally, the Crimson Tide averaged 12.4 yards per pass attempt, and 17.4 yards per completion even though Young didn't throw a lot of deep balls.
5] Crimson Tide domination
Over the last four meetings with Mississippi State, which includes the final year of the Dan Mullen era with the Bulldogs, Alabama is 4-0 with a points advantage of 152-16. The lone MSU touchdown was scored by Kylin Hill on a 1-yard run in 2019.