With Saturday night’s 25-20 victory against Mississippi State, University of Alabama coach Nick Saban recorded his fifth win against a team ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Poll.

That’s more than anyone else since the poll was created in 1936.

Overall, Saban is 5-2 in those games, 4-1 with the Crimson Tide.

Only eight other coaches have three or more wins against No. 1 teams:

Name, record
Nick Saban 5-2
Joe Paterno 4-8
Lou Holtz 4-2
Jimmy Johnson 4-1
Jack Mollenkopf 4-2
Paul W. “Bear” Bryant 3-3
Dennis Erickson 3-3
Bo Schembechler 3-5-1
Barry Switzer 3-2-2

  • Play of the game: Junior wide receiver Amari Cooper’s 50-yard reception was a big-time play as he split defensive backs Justin Cox and Kendrick Market and refused to let them rip the ball away after making the catch.
  • Player of the game: Senior safety Nick Perry was in on 12 tackles, including nine solo, and had an interception. Five of his tackles were on carries between minus-2 and 2 yards.
  • Hit of the game: On Alabama’s first punt junior Landon Collins drilled Fred Ross for a return of 0 yards.
  • Statistic of the game: Coming in Mississippi State led the nation in red-zone defense, allowing just 10 touchdowns out of 31 possessions and eight field goals. Alabama scored three red-zone touchdowns and had a field goal (with one miss). On the flip side, the Bulldogs’ offense had two costly turnovers inside the 20.
  • Did you notice? Alabama converted just five third-down opportunities, three of which were on the 15-play touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. After senior quarterback Blake Sims had a designed run on the Crimson Tide’s first possession for a 4-yard gain, he didn’t have another carry (except a sack) until running for 10 and 11 yards on third downs during that drive.

Here are 10 other things of note from Saturday’s 25-20 victory over No. 1 Mississippi State:

1. Great Scott: Freshman punter JK Scott nearly got our player of the week award after averaging 45.6 yards on seven punts, five of which landed inside the 20. After his four punts in the first half Mississippi State started possessions at its 16-, 5-, 10- and 18-yard lines. One led to a safety and following the subsequent free kick Alabama scored on a field goal. The difference in the game ended up being five points.

2. Explosive plays: Nick Saban defines them as a run of 13 or more yards, or a pass of 17 or more yards. Alabama’s goal is nine per game. It had none on the ground and four total, while Mississippi State tallied six.

Game leaders
Amari Cooper 1
Jalston Fowler 1
ArDarius Stewart 1
DeAndrew White 1

Season leaders
Amari Cooper 27
T.J. Yeldon 17
Derrick Henry 11
DeAndrew White 8
Blake Sims 6

3. Who was thrown at? Mississippi State’s De’Runnya Wilson, the 2013 Mr. Basketball in the state of Alabama at Wenonah High School in Birmingham, is listed as 6 foot 5, 225 pounds, while Crimson Tide junior cornerback is 5-10, 194. The Bulldogs frequently paired Wilson against Jones and threw at the cornerback 12 times resulting in six catches for 68 yards and one interception in the end zone. Sophomore cornerback Eddie Jackson was thrown at eight times, with three receptions for 27 yards and a well-designed 4-yard touchdown. He was credited with breaking up three passes, and coming in only had one. MSU’s passing game arguably had its biggest success throwing to players out of the backfield, with four of the attempts resulting in 10-plus yards.

4. Mistakes index: Basically, it’s a measure of miscues, but it could arguably also be an indirect indicator of maturity and discipline. The mistakes index is fumbles lost + interceptions + penalties + sacks.

West Virginia 0+1+7+0 = 8
Florida Atlantic 0+0+6+1=7
Southern Miss 1+0+3+1=5
Florida 3+1+11+1=16
Ole Miss 1+1+8+1=11
Arkansas 2+0+4+2=8
Texas A&M 0+0+0+1=1
Tennessee 2+0+6+1=9
LSU 1+0+3+1= 5
Mississippi State 0+0+7+1=8

Game-by-game opponents
West Virginia 0+0+6+3 = 9
Florida Atlantic 1+0+3+3=7
Southern Miss 0+0+6+1=7
Florida 1+2+5+0=8
Ole Miss 1+0+3+2+7
Arkansas 2+1+4+4=11
Texas A&M 0+1+2+6=9
Tennessee 1+1+4+2=8
LSU 0+1+2+2=5
Mississippi State 0+3+4+1=8

5. Changes in the running game: For the third straight game the Alabama rushing attack averaged more yards per attempt, but had fewer carries than its opponent. At Tennessee it had 41 carries for 183 yards, 4.5 average, while the home team was 43-181, 4.2. At LSU it was 29-106, 3.7, while the Tigers were 56-183, 3.3. Against Mississippi State it had 32-124, 3.9, compared to 40-138, 3.5. It’s a little unusual, but one thing that’s changed of late is that the Crimson Tide has been running more between the tackles, with three carries for 16 yards around he left end and six attempts for 28 yards to the right against the Bulldogs. That may have been a matchup thing, but Alabama was also shorthanded in the backfield Saturday with Kenyan Drake (leg fracture) and Altee Tenpenny (not announced) both out and starter T.J. Yeldon dealing with foot/ankle injuries. Perhaps coaches were trying to keep him from cutting more, but it’ll be interesting to see how the play-calling might change in two weeks against Auburn, which is 43rd in the nation in rushing defense, and Yeldon has a chance to heal up some.

6. Yards after the catch: For the first time this season Alabama didn’t reach the 100 mark as it unofficially finished with 90. It was also the first time the Crimson Tide didn’t have anyone with 100 all-purpose yards. The 4.73 average per catch was a season low.

Game leaders
Amari Cooper 31
ArDarius Stewart 18
DeAndrew White 18
Jalston Fowler 13
Brian Vogler 5

Season leaders
Amari Cooper 648
T.J. Yeldon 158
DeAndrew White 154
Kenyan Drake 102
O.J. Howard 85
Total: 1,457 of 2,742 (53.1 percent)

Per game
Opponent, YAC, Receptions, Average
West Virginia 116/24 = 4.83
Florida Atlantic 246/26= 9.46
Southern Miss 101/17= 5.94
Florida 246/24 =10.3
Ole Miss 117/18 = 6.5
Arkansas 101/11 = 9.2
Texas A&M 173/21 = 8.23
Tennessee 167/14 = 11.9
LSU 100/20 = 5.0
Mississippi State 90/19 = 4.73

7. Most around the ball: Defensive “touches” is found by adding together tackles, assists, sacks, passes broken up (interceptions are included in that statistic), hurries, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. Perry’s nine solo tackles were the most by any Alabama player this season, topping his eight from the Tennessee game.

Game leaders
Nick Perry 13.5
Eddie Jackson 10
Reggie Ragland 10
Trey DePriest 9.5
Dalvin Tomlinson 9

Season leaders
Reggie Ragland 93.5
Landon Collins 80
Trey DePriest 67
Nick Perry 63.5
Jarran Reed 51.5

8. Third-down passing: During the first half the average distance Alabama needed on third down was 5.2 yards. In the second half the shortest third-down situation it faced was 5 yards as it averaged needing 9.5 for the first down. The Crimson Tide didn’t have a third down during its first two touchdown drives.

Sims’ third-down passing, game-by-game
West Virginia 8-9-0 0 TD, 90 yards, six first downs
Florida Atlantic 1-1-0 0 TD, 10 yards, one first down
Southern Miss 2-2-0, 0 TD, 26 yards, two first downs
Florida 6-8-0, 1 TD, 89 yards, five first downs
Ole Miss 5-7-0, 0 TD, 36 yards, five first downs
Arkansas 5-9-0, 2 TD, 72 yards, three first downs
Texas A&M 6-8-0, 1 TD, 98 yards, six first downs
Tennessee 3-5-0, 0 TD, 42 yards, three first downs
LSU 7-15, 83 yards, four first downs
Mississippi State 7-10, 60 yards, two first downs
Total 50-74-0 (67.6 percent), 4 TD, 606 yards, 37 first downs

Team totals: 55-82-0 (67.1 percent), 5 TDs, 684 yards
Last season: 50-76-3 (66.14 percent), 6 TDs, 582 yards
2012 season: 56-90-2 (62.2 percent), 8 TDS, 724 yards

9. Red-zone passing: Sims completed all five of his passes inside the MSU 20, for 22 yards and one touchdown. For the season he’s now 25-for-42 for 160 yards and nine touchdowns and no interceptions. Most of the misses have been to Cooper, who obviously draws a lot of attention. With his touchdown against Mississippi State he’s caught eight of 18 passes thrown his way in the red zone, for 38 yards and three touchdowns. No one else has had more than four passes thrown their way (or more than two incompletions).

10. Records chase: With eight receptions for 88 yards on Saturday, Cooper has 191 career receptions, three shy of the Alabama record of 194 set by DJ Hall.

With 1,303 yards this season he has one of the 10 best seasons in SEC history, and by going over 3,000 career yards is in the top five all-time.

All-time leading SEC receiving yards, single season
1. Josh Reed, 1740, 2001, Louisiana State
2. Alshon Jeffery, 1517, 2010, South Carolina
3. Jordan Matthews, 1477, 2013, Vanderbilt
4. Mike Evans, 1394, 2013, Texas A&M
5. Travis McGriff, 1357, 1998, Florida
6. Cobi Hamilton, 1335, 2012, Arkansas
7. Carlos Alvarez, 1329, 1969, Florida
8. Jordan Matthews, 1323, 2012, Vanderbilt
9. Craig Yeast, 1311, 1998, Kentucky
10. Amari Cooper, 1303, 2014, Alabama

All-time SEC receiving yards
1. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt, 2010-13, 3,759
2. Terrence Edwards, Georgia, 1999-2002, 3,093
3. Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina, 2009-11, 3,042
4. Amari Cooper, Alabama, 2012-14, 3,039
5. Josh Reed, LSU, 1999-11, 3,001

Yeldon needs 465 rushing yards to break Shaun Alexander’s career record of 3,565.