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Instant Analysis: No. 5 Alabama 25, No. 1 Mississippi State 20

Alabama is back in the SEC driver’s seat.

Dak Prescott and No. 1 Mississippi State (9-1, 5-1 SEC) showed resilience in rallying from a huge early deficit at No. 5 Alabama (9-1, 6-1) on Saturday, but the Bulldogs still suffered their first loss of the season 25-20.

In the process, Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide claimed the lead in the SEC West race and took over as the conference’s top College Football Playoff contender.

Let’s recap how the Tide returned to the top of the SEC heap:

How the game was won: Mississippi State rallied from a 19-0 deficit to make it 19-13 in the fourth quarter, but Alabama put away the win with a 15-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that ate six minutes off the clock. The Tide made the lead stand up by picking off Prescott for a third time and recovering a late onside kick.

Game ball goes to: Blake Sims. Like last week against LSU, Alabama’s offense was stagnant for long periods. The Tide was 2-for-10 on third down prior to their decisive drive, but they went 3-for-3 on that possession. Alabama’s quarterback completed an 8-yard pass to T.J. Yeldon for the first conversion, and he followed with runs of 10 and 11 yards to keep the chains moving.

What it means: Considering this was No. 1 versus No. 5, there were enormous College Football Playoff implications, plus Alabama now holds the edge in the SEC West race. Both teams still have huge games left (Alabama versus Auburn, Mississippi State at Ole Miss), but the West is now Alabama’s to lose.

Playoff implication: Alabama fans figured they would move into the top 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings after last Saturday’s comeback win at LSU. The Tide will definitely crack the top four after handing Mississippi State its first loss. It will be interesting to see how far State falls after Saturday’s defeat.

What's next: Alabama has a gimme next week against Western Carolina before hosting rival Auburn on Nov. 29. Mississippi State will host Vanderbilt, which is winless in the SEC, next Saturday before visiting rival Ole Miss on Nov. 29.