TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Sylvester Croom only wished his father was still around to be part of such a joyous homecoming.
"He'd have that big ol' smile on his face," the Mississippi State coach said of the late Rev. Sylvester Croom Sr. "I know he's smiling anyway."
Michael Henig passed for 143 yards and two touchdowns, and Mississippi State beat Alabama 24-16 on Saturday to give Croom his first victory over his alma mater.
"I feel so thankful. I feel blessed, having grown up in this town, having played at the University of Alabama and having coached the Mississippi State football team to this win," said Croom, the SEC's first black head football coach.
Croom interviewed for the Alabama head coaching job in 2003, but the Tide hired current coach Mike Shula instead.
Anthony Dixon ran for 121 yards for the Bulldogs (3-7, 1-5), who snapped a 23-game Southeastern Conference road losing streak and an 18-game skid against Western division rivals.
IN NASHVILLE, TENN., Chris Leak ran for two touchdowns and threw for another Saturday as seventh-ranked Florida survived Vanderbilt's fourth-quarter rally for its 16th consecutive victory in the series.
With the win, and Tennessee's 28-24 loss to LSU, the Gators (8-1, 6-1) clinched the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division title for the first time since 2000, along with a berth in the league championship game.
IN AUBURN, ALA., Brandon Cox passed for 251 yards and two touchdowns and No. 6 Auburn held Arkansas State to 177 total yards.
The Tigers (9-1) turned the ball over four times but got the easy tuneup they hoped for.
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