On Fire

Football in the state of Mississippi is as hot as it has ever been in history, as both Mississippi schools in the SEC are ranked in the top 15 and facing top 15 opponents in the same week for the first time since 1953. Mississippi State will host SEC Nation this weekend for its game against No. 6 Texas A&M, one of two nationally televised pregame shows coming to the Magnolia State this weekend. Never has Mississippi been a bigger player on the national scene than this weekend, and the Bulldogs will have a huge chance to capitalize on the attention with another win over a top 10 team from the SEC West.

Staying Hot

The Mississippi State run game remains one of the best in the conference, and the Bulldogs will need a strong rushing attack when facing A&M this weekend. The longer Mississippi Sate can control possession, the less time the Aggies will have to attack with their own potent offense. Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson both went over 100 yards on the ground in the win over LSU two weeks ago, and both will need to have great showings against a stout A&M defensive line. The Bulldogs’ ground game is picking up momentum as the season progresses, and this weekend will be another opportunity for MSU to assert its ground game.

Cooling Off

The Bulldogs’ offensive line will take a huge hit this weekend with the absence of center Dillon Day, who was suspended one game by the SEC for stomping on LSU players in Mississippi State’s last outing. Guard Ben Beckwith will slide over to center, and reserve Jamaal Clayborn will replace Beckwith at guard against an A&M defense with 16 sacks already this season. Not only will MSU be missing one of its most experienced and reliable linemen in Day, who normally calls out protections at the line of scrimmage, it will also have to make due with a new collection of linemen who have been given very little time to find a new rhythm up front. It remains to be seen whether the Bulldogs’ big uglies are up to the challenge, but the line certainly won’t be better in Day’s absence.

Getting Chilly

Mississippi State’s secondary is at risk of being exposed by Texas A&M’s explosive passing game if it cannot find a way to eliminate big plays over the top. Mississippi State has allowed the most completions of 30 or more yards of anyone in the conference, and Texas A&M’s offense has converted the most 30 yard completions of anyone in the SEC. This is not a good matchup for the Bulldogs’ secondary, but if the back-end of the defense gives a cushion at the line of scrimmage to prevent big plays, A&M has shown it is not opposed to dinking and dunking their way down the field with short passes to underneath receivers who do work after the catch. Mississippi State may be better off giving a cushion and allowing for short completions, but it must make tackles in the open field or those short completions will turn into game-breaking plays.