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Associated Press

No. 5 LSU handles No. 22 Mississippi State, advances to showdown vs. No. 1 Alabama

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LSU came into Saturday knowing if No. 22 Mississippi State was going to beat them, Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald would have to do it by himself.

Fitzgerald managed to run the ball 23 times for 131 hard, effective yards, but the Bulldogs’ passing game was simply atrocious. He finished 8-of-24 for 59 yards with four interceptions, allowing No. 5 LSU to coax out just enough offense for a 19-3 win in Baton Rouge.

The first of Fitzgerald’s two picks proved to be the backbreaker. On his second pass of the day, Fitzgerald hit LSU’s Michael Divinity, Jr., who returned the ball 30 yards to the Mississippi State 3. Nick Brossette punched in a 1-yard rush on 3rd-and-goal to put the Tigers up 7-0.

Mississippi State answered with a 73-yard drive, but Fitzgerald’s 3rd-and-one plunge from the 2 was stuffed, forcing a 19-yard Jace Christmann field goal.

The Tigers’ next seven possessions covered 22 yards in 15 plays, ending in six three-and-outs and one interception, but it didn’t matter. Mississippi State (4-3, 1-3 SEC) could not puncture the scoreboard again, and a 38-yard Cole Tracy field goal pushed the lead to 10-3 at the break.

That theme continued in the second half, as Tracy added second half field goals of 38, 29 and 40 yards.

Joe Burrow finished 16-of-28 for 129 yards with an interception, while the Tigers’ ground game mustered 111 yards on 43 carries.

While it was enough for LSU (7-1, 4-1 SEC) to beat this week’s opponent, it won’t be enough to beat the next. After a mutual bye week, LSU next takes the field against No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 3 in Baton Rouge. 

And a major development in that game occurred at the end of this one. LSU linebacker Devin White was ejected in the fourth quarter for a targeting hit on Fitzgerald, meaning the Bayou Bengals will be without their best defensive player for the first half against Alabama.

No. 5 LSU can’t get anything going, still leads No. 22 Mississippi State

Associated Press
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Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has been responsible for almost all the points scored thus far at Tiger Stadium. Problem for the No. 22 Bulldogs is, most of them have been for the other team.

Fitzgerald’s second pass of the game, on the opening possession of the game, was intercepted by LSU’s Michael Divinity, Jr., who returned it 31 yards to the Mississippi State 3. Nick Brossette punched in a 1-yard score on 3rd-and-goal to put LSU up 7-0 two and a half minutes into the game.

Fitzgerald responded by leading the Bulldogs on a 7-play, 73-yard drive, but his 3rd-and-goal run from the 2 was stuffed and Mississippi State settled for a 19-yard Jace Christmann field goal.

LSU’s next seven possessions went three-and-out, with one exception: a 4-play drive that ended in a Joe Burrow interception inside the Mississippi State end zone, which Cameron Dantzler mistakenly brought out, only to step out at his own 1.

LSU’s first seven drives, including the 3-yard touchdown march, covered 22 yards over 15 plays. Their final possession was more successful, a 13-play, 62-yard drive that ended in a 25-yard Cole Tracy field goal as time expired, sending the No. 5 Tigers to the locker room with a 10-3 lead.

Fitzgerald dominated the ball for the Bulldogs. His legs have been effective, carrying 15 times for 102 yards, but his arm has not. He’s completed 3-of-9 passes for 14 yards with two interceptions.

LSU will receive to open the second half.

Easy dozen: No. 1 Alabama rolls to 12th straight win over Tennessee

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The good news for Tennessee: the Vols scored more points on No. 1 Alabama than they have at any point in their 11-game losing streak to the Clemson Tide.

The bad: it wasn’t near enough.

Though backup quarterback Keller Chryst exploited worrisome vulnerabilities in a work-in-progress Alabama secondary, it was too little, too late as Tua Tagovailoa and company overwhelmed the Vols en route to a 58-21 romp in Knoxville.

Alabama opened up leads of 14-0 less than five minutes into the game and 28-0 a dozen minutes in, cruising to a 42-14 halftime lead. It was the fifth time in eight games Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) has hit the 40-point barrier in the first half, and the first half Tennessee (3-4, 1-3 SEC) has allowed the same since a 62-37 loss to Florida on Sept. 16, 1995.

The 58 points are the most Alabama has ever scored in 100 games against Tennessee. The 37-point margin marks the ninth time (and third consecutive) Alabama has beaten Tennessee by at least 20 points during the ongoing 12-game streak.

In two-plus quarters, Tagovailoa furthered his Heisman campaign by hitting 19-of-29 passes for 306 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Chryst entered for an injured and ineffective Jarrett Guarantano (5-of-10 for 63 yards) and fired two second quarter touchdown passes, finishing 9-of-15 for 164 yards with no interceptions.

Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and, for the eighth time in eight tries, scored a touchdown on its opening possession. Tagovailoa guided the Crimson Tide 58 yards in nine plays, including a 10-yard connection to Jaylen Waddle on a 3rd-and-10 from the Tennessee 35 and an 11-yard scoring toss to Jerry Jeudy.

And then came the knockout punch.

On a 3rd-and-10 from the Tennessee 25, Alabama’s Xavier McKinney sacked Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Christian Miller for the visitors at the Vols’ 3. Josh Jacobs punched it in for the score, putting the Tide up 14-0 at the 10:35 mark of the first quarter.

After the score, Alabama’s defense forced a three-and-out, and Tagovailoa hit Waddle for a 77-yard touchdown strike on the first snap of the ensuing possession.

After another Vols three-and-out, Alabama moved 93 yards in nine plays, gaining 46 yards on two completions to Jeudy and scoring on a 3-yard Damien Harris rush, pushing Alabama’s lead to 28-0 with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Tennessee regrouped in the second quarter, forcing two straight three-and-outs (a first for Alabama this season), then moving 75 yards in five plays to get on the board. Guarantano hit Josh Palmer for a 30-yard gain but was forced to leave the game after taking a hit. Chryst entered and found Ty Chandler for consecutive gains of 26 and 10 yards, the latter putting Tennessee on the board at 28-7 with 7:21 to play in the first half.

Jeremy Pruitt called for an onside kick after the score, which Tennessee recovered… one yard before it was allowed to do so.

Alabama took over at the Tennessee 43 and capitalized with its fifth first half touchdown, a 2-yard Jacobs plunge that moved Alabama’s lead to 35-7 with 4:23 left in the first half.

But Chryst’s presence in the game continued to exploit a vulnerability in the Alabama secondary. Facing a 3rd-and-12 at his own 17, Chryst found Jauan Jennings for consecutive gains of 23 and 40 yards to move the ball to the Alabama 20. After an incompletion to Jennings, Chryst connected with Tyler Byrd for a 20-yard touchdown strike, pulling the Vols back within 21 with 2:18 left before the break.

Though Tennessee may have cracked the Alabama defense, the Tide’s offense remained unstoppable. Alabama needed 123 seconds to move 85 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 9-yard toss from Tagovailoa to Irv Smith, Jr.

Alabama opened the second half scoring by corralling Chryst in the end zone for a safety, then completed Tagovailoa’s day with a 41-yard scoring strike to Henry Ruggs III.

Jalen Hurts entered and contributed Tennessee’s third touchdown on a 27-yard pick-six to defensive lineman Kyle Phillips, but he immediately made up for the score by capping an 8-play, 70-yard drive with a 21-yard scoring jaunt.

No. 1 Alabama once again rolling over Tennessee

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Every game lasts 60 minutes, but most Alabama games effectively last five, maybe 10. The No. 1 Tide’s tilt with Tennessee appears headed that way through one half.

Alabama leads 42-14 at the break in Knoxville.

Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and, for the eighth time in eight tries, scored a touchdown on its opening possession. Tua Tagovailoa guided the Crimson Tide 58 yards in nine plays, including a 10-yard connection to Jaylen Waddle on a 3rd-and-10 from the Tennessee 35 and an 11-yard scoring toss to Jerry Jeudy.

And then came the knockout punch.

On a 3rd-and-10 from the Tennessee 25, Alabama’s Xavier McKinney sacked Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Christian Miller for the visitors at the Vols’ 3. Josh Jacobs punched it in for the score, putting the Tide up 14-0 at the 10:35 mark of the first quarter.

After the score, Alabama’s defense forced a three-and-out, and Tagovailoa hit Waddle for a 77-yard touchdown strike on the first snap of the ensuing possession.

After another Vols three-and-out, Alabama moved 93 yards in nine plays, gaining 46 yards on two completions to Jeudy and scoring on a 3-yard Damien Harris rush, pushing Alabama’s lead to 28-0 with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Tennessee regrouped in the second quarter, forcing two straight three-and-outs (a first for Alabama this season), then moving 75 yards in five plays to get on the board. Guarantano hit Josh Palmer for a 30-yard gain but was forced to leave the game after taking a hit. Keller Chryst entered and found Ty Chandler for consecutive gains of 26 and 10 yards, the latter putting Tennessee on the board at 28-7 with 7:21 to play in the first half.

Jeremy Pruitt called for an onside kick after the score, which Tennessee recovered… one yard before it was allowed to do so.

Alabama took over at the Tennessee 43 and capitalized with its fifth first half touchdown, a 2-yard Jacobs plunge that moved Alabama’s lead to 35-7 with 4:23 left in the first half.

But Chryst’s presence in the game continued to exploit a vulnerability in the Alabama secondary. Facing a 3rd-and-12 at his own 17, Chryst found Jauan Jennings for consecutive gains of 23 and 40 yards to move the ball to the Alabama 20. After an incompletion to Jennings, Chryst connected with Tyler Byrd for a 20-yard touchdown strike, pulling the Vols back within 21 with 2:18 left before the break.

Though Tennessee may have cracked the Alabama defense, the Tide’s offense remained unstoppable. Alabama needed 123 seconds to move 85 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 9-yard toss from Tagovailoa to Irv Smith, Jr.

The sophomore missed on an uncharacteristic 10 passes, wrapping the first half 15-of-25 for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Jacobs carried 11 carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns.

While Guarantano closed the half 5-of-10 for 63 yards, Chryst sliced the Tide to the tune of 119 yards and two touchdowns on 5-of-7 passing.

Alabama has out-rushed Tennessee 95 to minus-11.

The Vols will receive to open the second half.

Big 12 fines Iowa State $25K for West Virginia field rush

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No one ever wants to lose $25,000, but the guess here is Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard will be happy to cut this check. (And, yes, we know no one really cuts a check in these instances. Just roll with us here.)

The Big 12 on Tuesday slapped Iowa State with a $25,000 fine for the rushing of Jack Trice Stadium’s field following the Cyclones 30-14 destruction of No. 13 West Virginia on Saturday.

“We have a duty to provide a safe game environment,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “The Iowa State Department of Athletics has a written event management policy that was not thoroughly implemented, and was unsuccessful in ensuring the safety and security of all visiting team game participants. Although the Big 12 conference does not currently have a policy prohibiting spectators from entering playing areas for post-game celebrations, it is of utmost importance that home game management provide adequate security measures for our student-athletes, coaches, game officials and spectators.”

Iowa State is the second school to receive such a fine this week. No. 5 LSU was fined $100,000 for the rushing of Tiger Stadium’s field following the Bayou Bengals’ 36-16 blowout of No. 8 Georgia.

Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen said the field rush was “very unprofessional” during the Big 12 teleconference on Monday.

“Our job is to keep student-athletes in a safe place. When you have thousands of people coming at you, it’s not good,” he said. There are league rules and a league ban against that for a reason. Our job is to keep players safe, and we didn’t have time to get them off the field. That was not good.”