TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- AJ McCarron passed for 208 yards and two touchdowns and No. 1 Alabama reached the end zone on its first three possessions in a 38-7 victory over No. 13 Mississippi State on Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) quickly turned the meeting of unbeaten SEC West teams into a mismatch, rolling toward a national title game rematch at No. 6 LSU.
The Bulldogs (7-1, 3-1) came in averaging 36.7 points a game but didn't score until the final minutes. They had been leading the nation in turnover margin but lost two fumbles and an interception.
McCarron completed 16 of 23 passes before sitting out the fourth quarter. He headed to the locker room briefly early in the quarter briefly but returned to the sideline. Coach Nick Saban said McCarron bruised his back but will be fine for LSU.
The Tide has now won the past five meetings and this one turned into more of the same, despite considerably more hype.
The Bulldogs had started 7-0 for only the second time in program history. Instead of proving they were legitimate SEC contenders, this game showed they have a ways to go.
McCarron hit Kenny Bell in stride for a 57-yard touchdown to cap a drive that started at Alabama's 4. He then found tight end Michael Williams for a 9-yard score early in the second quarter.
His 18 touchdowns tie him with John Parker Wilson for second-most in school history, two behind Greg McElroy's single-season record.
T.J. Yeldon rushed for 84 yards on 10 carries, including an 11-yard touchdown. The subs tacked on two touchdowns after turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Alabama held the SEC's leading rusher, LaDarius Perkins, to 38 yards on 15 carries. The Tide outgained Mississippi State 414-256.
Tyler Russell completed 15 of 30 passes for 169 yards but threw just his second interception of the season and took a number of hits from the nation's top defense.
Alabama's 24-0 halftime lead held until Mississippi State had a muffed punt and another fumble in the fourth. Then Alabama's backup quarterbacks came in to convert those mistakes into touchdowns.
Phillip Ely hit Eddie Lacy for a 27-yarder and then Blake Sims led another scoring drive capped with a 3-yard touchdown run by freshman Kenyan Drake.
The Bulldogs finally scored on backup quarterback Dak Prescott's 2-yard touchdown pass to Robert Johnson with 4:39 left in the game.
Mississippi State couldn't cash in on two other scoring chances before the game really got out of hand. First, Dee Milliner blocked a 31-yard field goal attempt on the opening drive.
Then, Russell drove the Bulldogs 97 yards from their own 2-yard line before Robert Lester picked off a pass in the end zone late in the third.
Mississippi State managed to slow down Alabama's offense for a stretch after getting bullied in the first 17 minutes but couldn't find many holes in the defense.
The Tide has two shutouts and has lost two more in the final minutes with the reserves on the field.