- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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STARKVILLE, Miss. -- No. 1-ranked Alabama didn't play its best, but it found a way to beat Mississippi State on the road, 20-7, to keep its perfect season alive.
During the course of the action, a few players stood out as worthy of a coveted helmet sticker.
QB AJ McCarron: Nothing about his performance was pretty. After going more than 100 pass attempts without an interception, he threw two picks. It was his second lowest quarterback rating of the season. But when he needed to reach down deep, he did, leading Alabama on a nine-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a picture perfect back-shoulder pass to Kevin Norwood for the touchdown. And in the process of the game, he set another Alabama record, this time passing John Parker Wilson (8,099 yards from 2005-08) for the most yards of total offense in a career.
RB T.J. Yeldon: His fumble might be the thing most fans remember, but Yeldon did plenty of positive things against Mississippi State, too. Alabama's starting running back led the way with 169 yards on 24 carries. It was his highest yardage total of the season and his 50-yard scamper against the Bulldogs was his longest run of the year, too.
P Cody Mandell: If there was a first-half MVP -- and the first half of play was ugly for Alabama -- it was Mandell. While McCarron and the offense struggled to find rhythm and the defense looked out of whack with multiple instances of miscommunication, Mandell showcased his very considerable talents. His 63-yard punt was the longest of his career, and the 55-yard punt before that wasn't too shabby either. Alabama wasn't winning on either side of the ball, but thanks to Mandell it won the field position battle.