Mississippi State finally ran out of miracles and out of the national title chase.
Andrew Zow threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Shamari Buchanan with 6:04 to play Saturday and gave No. 11 Alabama a 19-7 victory over No. 8 Mississippi State.
The win gave the Crimson Tide (8-2, 6-1) sole possession of first place in the SEC West and ended a three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs (8-1, 5-1).
The loss ruined Mississippi State's chances at its first-ever undefeated season and will probably prevent the Bulldogs from a second straight trip to the SEC title game.
Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill refused to write off anything.
"This one loss doesn't end our season," he said. "In this league, it's not over until the final game. We still have a chance and we will prepare that way."
But if Alabama beats Auburn next week, the Tide are guaranteed a spot in the SEC championship game and a rematch with No. 4 Florida. Alabama handed the Gators their only loss of the season, 40-39, in October.
The Tide hasn't won in their four previous trips to Auburn.
"We understand the challenge that lies ahead of us," DuBose said. "Believe me, we understand the opportunity."
Alabama returned to the field about 10 minutes after the game was over to the delight of the 10,000 remaining fans. Senior Chris Samuels grabbed an Alabama flag and ran across the field with it, his teammates following.
DuBose said he was reluctant to allow the team back on the field, but gave in because the seniors wanted to do it. It was the final home game for Alabama's 14 seniors, nine of whome have been with the program through its stint on NCAA probation.
"Through probation and lack f scholarship, things began to take a toll," Alabama tailback Shaun Alexander said. "Through it all, the fans have been with us. Sometimes the crowd gives me chills and today we wanted to give something back to them."
Mississippi State, which had rallied to win its last three games in the final minute, was never in position for another miracle finish.
With Alexander and Zow back in the lineup and 100 percent healthy for the first time since they both sprained ankles three weeks ago, the Tide took control of the defensive game late in the fourth quarter.
Clinging to a 13-7 fourth-quarter lead, Alexander got Alabama moving with a 10-yard gain his longest of the day that put the Tide on its own 46-yard line. Freddie Milons gained 11 yards on a reverse two plays later.
Milons then served as a decoy on Alabama's touchdown. He moved into the left flat and brought the Mississippi State defense with him. That allowed Buchanan to break free behind the defense, where Zow found him wide open for a 19-7 lead.
"The play called for a pump fake to me and they bit, I looked up and they gave it to Shamari and he was gone," said Milons, a native of Starkville, Miss. who had nine catches for 94 yards and ran three reverses for 38 yards.
"It was great because I knew so many of those guys it felt like I was playing street ball," the sophomore said.
"Shaun is our safety valve, but Freddie is our next guy," Zow said. "He hurt them all day today."
It was the first touchdown of Buchanan's career and was sweet redemption for the senior, who missed Alabama's game against Florida while he was investigated for having a speeding ticket fixed.
Following his touchdown, the Alabama crowd began a chant of "Overrated" in reference to Mississippi State's soft schedule. Despite being undefeated and having the nation's top defense, the Bulldogs came into the game ranked 10th in the BCS standings, one spot behind Alabama.
Alexander, the nation's scoring leader, had just 54 yards rushing on 24 carries against a Mississippi State defense that came into the game allowing just 54 yards a game. He had a 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and caught two passes for 54 yards.
After Alabama went up 19-7, the Bulldogs never had a chance. They had to punt after three plays in large part to Kindal Moorehead's 19-yard sack of quarterback Matt Wyatt that put the Bulldogs in a third-and-39 situation on their own 6.
Mississippi State got the ball back once more, but Darius Gilbert intercepted a pass by Wayne Madkin on the 44 with 41 seconds to play. The Alabama fans then showered the field with toilet paper and the Tide ran out the clock.
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