Top-ranked Tide rolls in first ‘real’ test

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UPDATED 12:14 a.m.: Consider this first test aced.

Coming off a strong first half, No. 1 Alabama closed nearly as strong in dropping Mississippi State from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 38-7 win.

Thanks to Florida’s loss to Georgia, the Tide Will Likely, once again, be a unanimous No. 1 when the Associated Press and coaches’ polls are released Sunday afternoon.

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One of the few negatives a nitpicker could find when it comes to the 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide is its strength of schedule, or lack thereof.  The combined record of the Tide’s last six opponents?  23-25.

Even a 27-point season-opening win over then-No. 5 Michigan came with an asterisk, although that’s slowly fading as the Wolverines have gone on to win five of their next six.

Still, many were looking at Saturday’s game with No. 13 and undefeated Mississippi State as UA’s first real test of the 2012 season.  If that’s indeed the case, and through 30 minutes, it’s A’s across the board.

Through two quarters of play, the Tide has dominated every phase of the game, leading the Bulldogs 24-0 at the half.

Offensively, the Tide totaled 236 yards, including an un-Alabama-like 177 yards passing off the right arm of Heisman contender AJ McCarron.  On the defensive side of the ball, where the Tide leads the country in nearly every major statistical category, they were their usual dominant self, limiting MSU to 105 yards of total offense, just 2.1 yards per carry and four first downs.

Even on special teams, the Tide is holding a significant edge.  Their lone kick return of the game went for 41 yards, giving the Tide prime field position on the opening kickoff that was cashed in on with a T.J. Yeldon touchdown run.  Additionally, punter Cody Mendell‘s gross average was the same as his net on three kicks at 52.7, pinning the Bulldogs at the 21-yard line or deeper each time.

Add it all up, and the methodical machine that is Alabama football continues to roll on.