#15 Mississippi State vs. #16 Texas A&M Preview

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This will be another huge game for MSU. While last week’s game presented an opportunity to create one of the biggest games in MSU history, this game vs. A&M is probably bigger in the sense that the Aggies are more on State’s level, and it’s a game the Bulldogs will need to win if they want to have a special season. I’m not sure this is the ‘biggest’ game of the year, because the way Ole Miss is playing the Egg Bowl will be.

Keys of the Game

Contain A&M’s rushing attack – plain and simple when they have been contained on the ground, they’ve struggled. Johnny Manziel leads the SEC in rushing and their rushing offense is 1st in the SEC. In fact, their scoring and total offense lead the SEC, but containing Manziel and RB Ben Malena will be huge. They have had 134 rushing in each of their loses, but have gained at least 218 in all their wins. They cannot break off multiple long runs.

Keep Manziel off the field – This kid is lighting it up. Tyler Russell and the offense will need to sustain drives and punctuate them with a score…and they’ll need a lot more touchdowns than field goals. This MSU offense is perfectly capable of moving the ball efficiently against this A&M defense, and I think they will do just that. Long drives and the ability to score six at the end of them will be big.

Shore up the kicking game – When facing a dynamic offense you’ve got to make sure they don’t get a head start. Allowing kickoff returns to midfield or some of the other special teams miscues that plagued State in Tuscaloosa will put a dent in MSU’s chances. If a FG attempt is necessary, we’ve got to make it…coming away with no points when you get deep into their territory can not happen.

Overview

Texas A&M looks like a really good team. They come in at 6-2, ranked #16 in the BCS and are a 7 point favorite on the road in this game. I can’t help but wonder just how much better they are than Tennessee? I know they are better than the Vols, but they are similar. Remember UT has lost five games to team who have a combined 35-5 record. Substitute Auburn, Arkansas and Ole Miss on A&M’s schedule with Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama and maybe it looks the same.

That said, I think this game will go along the same lines as MSU’s game with Tennessee. It will be a high scoring game that will come down to the end. Of course, State did very well against UT and had it not been for the kickoff return for a TD and Tobias Smith’s absence in the 3rd quarter it wouldn’t have come down to the end. But Johnny Football will be the difference in making sure it’s close, so State cannot afford any costly mistakes like a kickoff return or pick 6.

The game is at 11 AM, so Bulldog fans will need to bring their ‘A’ game early in this one. Continuing to protect Davis Wade, taking a step up in the SEC West, bowl positioning, that’s all on the line here.