TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Javier Arenas squirted through a gaping hole toward the sideline and there was no catching him from there.
Or No. 1 Alabama, for that matter.
Arenas ran back a punt 80 yards for a touchdown and set up a score with another long return, helping the Crimson Tide roll to a 32-7 comeback win over Mississippi State on Saturday night.
The Tide (11-0, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) scored the game's final 27 points to turn back a team that had given 'Bama fits the past two years.
Kareem Jackson blocked a punt in the end zone for a safety and Leigh Tiffin kicked three field goals to help keep Alabama on track for a perfect regular season leading up to a showdown with No. 3 Florida in the SEC championship game.
Mississippi State (3-7, 1-5) had won the past two meetings with coach Sylvester Croom's alma matter. The Bulldogs, who were knocked out of contention for a second straight bowl trip, had also been the team to end Alabama's last regular-season reign over the rankings back in 1980 when Croom was a Tide assistant.
Arenas effectively wiped out any fears of a repeat 28 years later. He darted through a hole and raced down the right sideline for his fifth career punt-return touchdown early in the second half to break David Palmer's school mark.
"Javy's second return probably changed the momentum of the game as much as anything," Tide coach Nick Saban said, calling it a "picture-perfect return" by the whole unit.
"We pretty much controlled the game after that."
Arenas gained a school-record 153 yards on six returns.
"My guys are out there blocking for me, just a huge wall there blocking for me," he said. "All of the guys set up a wall. I didn't make any moves."
Alabama trailed 7-5 when he turned in his first big runback and was in command after his second. His 46-yarder to the Bulldogs' 2-yard line set up John Parker Wilson's 1-yard sneak. It was the Tide's first offensive touchdown against Mississippi State since the fourth quarter of the 2004 game, a span of some 210 minutes of play.
Mark Ingram added another 1-yard score in the fourth quarter.
The Tide turned in a workmanlike performance following an emotional overtime win at LSU that clinched the SEC West title, but still outgained Mississippi State 364-167. Alabama had only 212 yards entering the fourth.
"The first half we didn't play especially well," Saban said. "We made some mental errors on defense that were very costly -- not like us. I thought we had a lot of energy, a lot of intensity, but we didn't play very smart."
Lee completed 11 of 28 passes for 132 yards while the league's top run defense held Anthony Dixon to 26 yards on 11 carries. That didn't leave much margin for error on special teams.
"We gave up 16 points in the kicking game, and that's pretty much the ballgame," Croom said. "We can't give those guys points. You can't give them anything."
Croom said defensive tackle Jessie Bowman appears lost for the season with a torn quadriceps muscle. The loss ended Mississippi State's postseason hopes. Linebacker Dominic Douglas figures there's plenty of blame to go around.
"We couldn't get anything started, passing or running, offense or defense," linebacker Douglas said. "We tried our best to stop them, but they kept kicking field goals that added to the score. We have to play better than we have been playing, and that is the bottom line."
Alabama's lone remaining game before the Gators is against struggling Auburn in two weeks.
Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones was taken to a hospital Wednesday night and treated for a severe headache, according to multiple media reports.
The Florida Gators will start Treon Harris at quarterback in Saturday's opener vs. New Mexico State over redshirt freshman Will Grier, coach Jim McElwain said Tuesday.
Baylor University has hired a Philadelphia law firm to independently investigate the university's handling of sexual assault complaints, including one against defensive end Sam Ukwuachu.
Oregon State and former coach Mike Riley face a federal Title IX lawsuit filed by a woman who said she was raped as a result of the coach's failure to correct a sexually violent culture.
James Madison players will wear decals on their helmets during Saturday's season-opening game in memory of the two journalists who were killed during a live television broadcast.
Los Angeles prosecutors have charged a man in connection with the theft of the University of Southern California's copy of O.J. Simpson's Heisman Trophy more than 20 years ago.