Published October 30, 2012 - 2:40pm
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The Matchup: #16 Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2) at #15 Mississippi State (7-1, 3-1)
When: Saturday, November 3rd
Where: Starkville, MS
Game Time: 12:00 PM ET
Series History: Mississippi State is 3-2 against TAMU, with the last game coming in the 2000 Independence Bowl. MSU won that one 43-41.
Storyline(s): Mississippi State fans felt like they had no respect going into the Alabama game with a 7-0 undefeated record. Alabama brought out the whoopin’ stick last Saturday, and MSU was humbled. However, if MSU can beat the Aggies this week, they will gain some well-deserved respect. Additionally, this game features two of the best young head coaches in Dan Mullen and Kevin Sumlin, and both happen to be offensive guys, too.
Texas A&M Will Win If: The Aggies’ offensive line controls the line of scrimmage. We all know how Mississippi State will attempt to play against Johnny Manziel. Florida and LSU executed the blue print to perfection. They will try and force Johnny to stay in the pocket and avoid letting him pick up big plays on the ground – the exact opposite of how Auburn played last week. However, running back Ben Malena is becoming a great weapon on the ground, and Christine Michael is coming on strong as well. Combined, these two have rushed for 796 yards and 11 touchdowns. So, the offense is getting more players involved in the running game than just Manziel. We knew this would be key heading into the meat of their SEC schedule. Manziel leads the SEC in rushing and total offense. He’s going to make his plays and score his points against teams not named LSU or Alabama. This game does have the makings of a shootout, and Manziel will have to be on his game to lead his Aggies up and down the field against the seventh best defense in the SEC.
Mississippi State Will Win If: Tyler Russell has a big game. The biggest weakness on the Aggies’ defense is the secondary. The Aggies have the league’s 12th best pass defense. Ole Miss threw for 305 yards, and Louisiana Tech torched them for 450 yards through the air. So, there are some opportunities for Russell to attack in the passing game, but he’ll have to be efficient and keep turnovers to a minimum, something he’s excelled at thus far. Russell is fifth in the SEC in passing with 1,742 yards with 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Russell will have to be on for Mississippi State to put points on the board to score with the Aggies offense.
Interesting Stat: Kevin Sumlin has won 10 straight road games dating back to his days at Houston, and he follows it up this week with another road game against a ranked opponent.
What Gives? We know this game will come down to whether or not MSU’s defense can contain Johnny Manziel. Does the Bulldogs’ defense have enough playmakers in the front seven to corral Manziel and keep him in the pocket? If not, MSU’s offense will have to score points, because this Aggies team can score in boatloads if not defended correctly. I wouldn’t call this game a track meet, but several points will be scored.