The Mississippi State football team delivered last week. We needed to see the Bulldogs score at will, and that they did. While it was an inspiring performance the true test of the season comes to town this weekend. The Texas A&M Aggies, and those lovely yell leaders, will make the journey to Starkville this Saturday.
Going into the season, the Mississippi State football schedule was ranked among the hardest in the league. This remains true, but with a caveat. What seemed like an almost insurmountable October in the pre-season now has the makings of a remarkable season. The Bulldogs have seen all of their October opponents look almost human. It all starts with the beleaguered Aggies. If history has anything to say about this matchup, the Bulldogs should win in style.
What does a victory against A&M look like this year?
Well, as with any Air Raid offense, it starts with the quarterback. With Will Rogers at the helm, you can always expect an obscene number of attempts, and completions. I would not expect it to be like last week, though. The skinny post and shallow crossing routes likely won’t give us the same level of success against the Aggies. They happen to boast the 26th best passing defense in the nation; holding their opponents to less than 200 yards through the air a game. This puts them in a similar realm as Louisiana State. We know how that played out.
This is the perfect opportunity for Leach to accomplish two things: defend and adjust. First and foremost, we need to defend the home turf. Something that Leach has not been great at in his tenure at Mississippi State. Second, the Aggies pose a similar threat to our passing game as the Tigers did. Can he come out and show that he has learned something? Yes, he needs to keep the defense off balance by utilizing our weapons out of the backfield. No, he does not need to rely on the run game in obvious running downs. Timing is the name of the game here. In order to keep the defense honest, they cannot be expecting the run.
If I were a betting man, and I am, look for the usual dinks and dunks on the first drive. There will be at least one running down, and one shot downfield over the middle, too. It seems that Leach usually likes to poke at a defense and find their soft spots before settling into a game plan. Here’s hoping he finds a way if that doesn’t work. If the first two drives sputter, it usually takes late-game heroics to find a win.
On the other side of the ball, we have been gifted an anemic Aggies offense. In every offensive category, they are 100+ in the nation. Total yards: 191st, Passing yards: 192nd, Rushing Yards: 172nd, Points: 109th, Third downs: 100th. Add to this the injury to Ainias Smith, and the Bulldogs have a recipe for success. The vaunted Mississippi State run defense is built to keep them in this particular game. Your opponent has lost their top receiver, forcing Max Johnson to throw without his best weapon. Not allowing them to get it going on the ground is the best opportunity the Bulldogs will get to stiffen up the secondary and pull out a much-needed victory against a ranked opponent at home.
It is a gift to get an overrated Texas A&M squad at home this Saturday. Somehow, I just know the victory is coming.
Prediction: Wrap it in Maroon and White, 27-17