Nov. 14, 2008
STARKVILLE, Miss. – The second-ranked Alabama football team added another chapter to it’s illustrious history book on Nov. 14, 1992, by clinching the first-ever SEC Western Division championship with a 30-21 come-from-behind win over the Mississippi State on a cold, breezy night at Scott Field. With the win, Alabama improved to 10-0 on the season and advanced to the inaugural SEC Championship game, where the Tide would eventually face the SEC Eastern Division champion Florida Gators.
The Crimson Tide erased a fourth-quarter deficit and pulled out a 30-21 victory. Alabama regained the lead for good following a fumbled punt at the MSU 43-yard line with 11:30 left in the game. Willis Bevelle recovered the fumble and set the Tide up in great field position. It was one of three turnovers forced by the NCAA’s top-rated defense in the fourth quarter.
UA quarterback Jay Barker then led the Tide to a 9-play, 34-yard drive that resulted in a 26-yard field goal by Michael Proctor that gave the Tide a 23-21 lead. Barker’s 24-yard pass to Prince Wimbley on third-and-7 from the MSU 40 was the key play in the game-clinching drive.
A pair of George Teague interceptions sealed the Bulldogs fate later in the quarter. Teague’s first interception at the MSU 19-yard line set up a short touchdown drive and his second interception in the UA end zone with 30 seconds left in the game cinched the Tide’s 12th straight win in the series.
Following Teague’s first interception, Alabama needed only five plays to add to its narrow lead. Chris Anderson picked up one yard on the first play and then ripped off a 12-yard run to the MSU 6-yard line. After an Alabama timeout, Derrick Lassic picked up three yards and then Anderson added two more. On third-and-goal, Anderson went over the top for the touchdown and the Tide owned a 20-21 led with 5:10 left in the game.
Alabama held a narrow 304-301 lead in total offense on this cold night in Starkville. The Bulldogs out-gained the Tide 114-106 on the ground, while UA held a 198-187 advantage through the air. Alabama was most efficient in the third down battles, converting 9-of-18, while Mississippi State was just 3-of-12.
There were also missed opportunities in the game as the two teams combined for seven turnovers. MSU had two fumbles and threw two interceptions, while UA had threw two interceptions and fumbled once.
The Tide defense was also a factor, led by Sam Shade’s 10 tackles. Tommy Johnson and Lemanski Hall had nine tackles each. While Teague’s interception led to the game-winning field goal for the Tide in the fourth quarter. A blocked punt in the first quarter led the Tide to an early 17-point lead.
The Crimson Tide scored on its first possession as Barker’s 25-yard TD pass to Sherman Williams on third-and-10 capped the 7-play, 67-yard drive. Proctor’s extra point gave the Tide a 7-0 lead with 9:40 left in the first quarter.
After a three-and-out on MSU’s next possession, Alabama’s Antonio Langham blocked a Chris Jordan punt and scooped up the loose football for a 24-yard punt return to give the Tide a 14-0 lead less than two minutes later. Alabama extended its lead to 17-0 with 41-yard field goal by Proctor on the third snap of the second quarter.
Mississippi State answered with a 37-yard field goal by Chris Gardner with 5:53 remaining in the half to cut the UA lead to 17-3.
The Crimson Tide closed the half with 6-play, 59-yard drive in just 54 seconds that resulted in a 21-yard field goal by Proctor as time expired for a 20-3 lead.
Alabama appeared to be headed for another easy win, but things quickly changed in the third quarter as MSU scored on its first three possessions, aided by one costly UA turnover, to take a 21-20 lead into the final quarter.
Charlie Davidson intercepted a Jay Barker pass on the Tide’s third play from scrimmage to set up MSU with excellent field position at the Alabama 11-yard line. Following Davidson’s 21-yard return, MSU scored in two plays when quarterback Greg Plump’s 10-yard pass into the end zone was deflected into the arms of receiver Orlanda Truitt for the touchdown. With momentum on its side, Plump then fired a pass to tight end Curt Clanton for the two-point conversion and UA’s lead was quickly cut to 20-11 with 13:30 left in the third quarter.
After a three-and-out by the Tide offense, MSU went back to work following a short punt to the UA 47-yard line. Plump hit Clanton for 22 yards on the first play to the Tide 25. After a nine-yard loss on a lateral, Plump hits Willie Harris for 17 yards to the UA 17. Fred McCreay kept the drive alive with a 4-yard bust on third-and-two and Plump kept for 12 yards to the UA 1. After Michael Davis was stuffed at the 1-yard line on first down, Plump’s quarterback sneak made 20-18 with 9:27 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs took its first lead later in the quarter when Gardner’s 27-yard field with 1:29 left on the clock put an end to a 12-play, 46-yard drive to give MSU a 21-20 lead, its first lead over UA since an 18-17 fourth-quarter lead in 1987.
Alabama’s defense, which finished the regular season ranked No. 1 nationally in all four major statistical categories, forced two fourth quarter turnovers, one resulting in the game-winning score to win its first-ever SEC Western Division championship.
Following the win over Mississippi State, Alabama shut out Auburn, 17-0, on Thanksgiving Day at Legion Field and then beat Florida, 28-21, in the inaugural SEC Championship Game in Birmingham. The Tide then went on to beat No. 1 Miami, 34-13, at the 1983 Sugar Bowl to cap the school’s only 13-0 season and win the 12th national championship in Tide football lore.